Aged Care

Nature immersion program offers respite for dementia patients and carers


A new initiative in the Loddon-Mallee region is providing respite for people with dementia and their carers through immersive nature experiences.

The GreenConnect Dementia Respite project, funded by a $1.7 million grant from the Federal Government, aims to enhance the quality of life for both individuals living with dementia and their dedicated carers.

Rather than traditional respite services, which often involve indoor activities, GreenConnect offers trips to gardens, farms, walking tracks, outdoor events and even overnight retreats. These nature-immersion experiences provide a refreshing change of scenery and a chance to connect with the natural world.

Sandra Slatter, President of the Heathcote Dementia Alliance, emphasised the importance of supporting carers who often sacrifice their own well-being to care for their loved ones with dementia. Unlike those caring for people with disabilities, carers of dementia patients often do not receive the same level of financial assistance or support.

Slatter highlighted the significance of caring for the carer, stating, “If we can care for the carer, the person living with dementia has a better quality of life also.” By addressing the needs of carers, GreenConnect aims to improve the overall experience of dementia care and reduce the emotional toll on families.

The project, funded for three years, will be closely monitored and evaluated by La Trobe University’s John Richards Centre for Rural Ageing Research to assess its effectiveness. Early feedback suggests that nature-immersion activities positively impact the quality of life for individuals living with dementia.

According to Slatter, preliminary studies have shown that spending time in natural environments can significantly improve the well-being of dementia patients. The GreenConnect program aims to leverage these benefits by offering tailored outdoor experiences for participants.

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