Swim England

A nation swimming

Positive impacts of swimming for people living with dementia

Swim England News

This week was Dementia Awareness Week so we wanted to highlight how our dementia friendly swimming project is having an impact.

We developed the project in 2015 to support and encourage people living with dementia to enjoy swimming.

Now in its third year, the project has expanded across the country. Centres in a number of locations have up-skilled staff to enable them to deliver dementia friendly swimming sessions.

How does swimming help?

Swimming and socialising within a leisure centre environment is great for people living with dementia and their carers. It provides an opportunity to relax and take some time-out.

Head of Health and Wellbeing Elaine McNish said: “People with dementia often become isolated. The programme provides a good opportunity for people living with dementia to come together and share their stories and create a support network.  This also gives time-out for carers and provides extra opportunities for support.

“The other remarkable thing about swimming is that for many people it is associated with happy childhood memories. So swimming can have a very positive affect on an individual’s mood. This often lasts longer than just the swim.”

Learning from the project has also shown that by making swimming pools dementia friendly, they are also having a positive impact for people with a range of lifelong health conditions.

Health and Wellbeing Manager Duane Newton said: “On a recent visit to one of our partners who is delivering dementia friendly swimming sessions, I talked to a gentleman who had just come out of the pool. He said swimming helped him to ‘empty his head’. This enabled him to then speak to people over a cup of tea.

“Whilst this may not sound like much, for that gentleman, the act of going swimming had a huge impact and helped him to enjoy his day, which is what it is all about.”

You can read more about how the impact of the dementia friendly swimming project on our Dementia Friendly Swimming website.

  • Any facility operators interested in delivering dementia friendly swimming sessions should email [email protected]