We were delighted to officially open the UK’s first Outdoor Dementia Resource Centre (ODRC) on Friday 21 April. Based at Badaguish, near Aviemore in the Cairngorms National Park, the new centre enables people with dementia, their families, and carers to experience the mental and physical benefits of spending time outdoors.
The ODRC project is part of the Heritage Horizons: Cairngorms 2030 programme and is supported by The National Lottery Heritage Fund. The grand opening was attended by the Centre’s participants, their families and carers and project partners from Alzheimer Scotland, the Cairngorms National Park Authority, The National Lottery Heritage Fund, and the Speyside Trust.
The initiative started life as a monthly group intended to help local people with dementia and their families reconnect with nature, using a Tipi tent as a base. But the enormous benefits of spending time outdoors were soon very clear. The instant benefits of increased exposure to Vitamin D and lots of fresh air boosted the mental and physical wellbeing of all participants and before long, plans were afoot to expand!
The new centre opened its doors in July 2022, giving more people with dementia and their families and carers a rediscovered sense of freedom to explore nature. Set amidst spectacular Highland countryside, this unique centre offers a welcoming, homely space for visitors and offers a wide-range of nature-based activities including walks and trails, birdwatching, wildlife surveys, basket making, and wood carving. Working with partner organisations like Wild Things, the Royal Society for the Protection of Birds, and Adapted Cycling means there is a packed schedule most days and something to appeal to everyone.
Gillian Councill, Associate Executive Lead for Localities at Alzheimer Scotland, said: “We are delighted to officially open the Outdoor Dementia Resource Centre today, and it was wonderful to have so many of our participants here. People with dementia can really benefit from engaging with nature. The Centre is the first in the UK and supports people with dementia, their families, and caregivers to have enriching outdoor experiences. Anyone can get in touch with us and get support, and we look forward to welcoming people from across the National Park in the coming weeks and months.”
Grant Moir, Chief Executive at the Cairngorms National Park Authority, said: “The new Outdoor Dementia Resource Centre is a truly inspiring place that will make a huge difference to the people and communities of the National Park. The centre and the service it offers will contribute to making this a Park for All, where everyone is welcome no matter what their background or circumstances. The Outdoor Dementia Resource Centre project and what it delivers is an important part of the Cairngorms 2030 programme and its group of health and wellbeing projects. I’m proud that this first-of-its-kind centre has been opened here in Cairngorms National Park.”
Caroline Clark, Scotland Director at The National Lottery Heritage Fund said: “We work to ensure that heritage is inclusive and that our funding benefits the whole community. We are very proud to be supporting the UK’s first outdoor dementia centre as it pioneers a new way of enabling enjoyment of our natural heritage, demonstrating the benefits that engaging with heritage can have for our collective wellbeing.”
A wonderful day was had by all, topped off by a special visit from some fluffy friends from Cairngorm Alpacas who showed their support by wearing Alzheimer Scotland tartan ties!
Anyone living with dementia, their families and carers are welcome to participate in the Centre’s programme of outdoor activities. They can self-refer, making participation a quick and easy process.
For more information on the Centre and contact details, click here