Respite project for people with dementia and their carers

March 15, 2024 BY

Enjoying the fresh air: Kevin Aspinall, who has dementia, on an outing facilitated by GreenConnect Dementia Respite. Photo: SUPPLIED

A NEW dementia respite project is using nature-immersion to help both people living with the condition and their carers to improve quality of life.

GreenConnect Dementia Respite received $1.7 million of funding from the Federal Government last August to help run the program, which involves trips to gardens, farms, walking tracks, outdoor events, and overnight retreats across the Loddon-Mallee region.

It also includes the set-up of care plans for carers who are not typically given the same financial assistance as people living with disability are through government programs, said president of the Heathcote Dementia Alliance, the major organisation behind the funding, Sandra Slatter.

“The carer gets nothing; no care plan for the carer, no thought about the carers having to give up everything to care for this person, and the end result is they’re going to lose the person they care for so their grieving on that journey,” Ms Slatter said.

“If we can care for the carer, the person living with dementia has a better quality of life also.”

The project is being run for three years, and during that time La Trobe University’s John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research will be recording and evaluating its data to discover its impacts.

“We did a study with some OT (occupational therapy) students from La Trobe University about green care and nature immersed activities,” Ms Slatter said.

“There’s research that actually says if you get people with dementia out into the natural environment it actually helps a lot with their quality of life, and we’re seeing that already from the reactions we’re getting from people with dementia.”

Ms Slatter said people can get in contact with her if they want to find out more about GreenConnect, on 0417 350 911.