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Bowled Over – How ‘getting outdoors’ can help people living with dementia

Posted August 21st 2019 by Rhiannon J Davies

Outside The Box is pleased to announced that we have been asked by the Life Changes Trust to carry out an evaluation of their Scotland-wide Get Outdoors project.

The project launched in 2018 and will run until 2020. Funding of up to £15,000 was provided to six projects that support people living with dementia and their carers to ‘get outdoors’ in different ways through a wide range of different activities.

The outcomes they are hoping to see are:

  • Reduction in loneliness
  • Increased physical activity and improved physical and mental well-being
  • Reduction in the number of falls in care homes
  • Increased confidence and participation in community

Awards were granted to: Evanton Wood Community CompanyInstinctively WildThe Ecology CentreFroglife TrustSporting Memories NetworkNHS Dumfries and Galloway

For our first trip out to meet with one of the projects, we went along with Sporting Memories to the Wishaw South Bowling Club.

We met Alex, aged 92, a resident of a local care home, who along with a few others from the home, arrived in a wheelchair. Staff at the care home were looking for new activities for residents to take part in. They had recently discovered that Alec used to bowl, so when the opportunity came up to attend the Sporting Memories activity, they invited him along.

On arrival, he quickly got out of his chair, walked onto the green and was instantly in his element. It turned out his old set of bowls were still kept in the locker, so he was able to use his own.

An old pro, he picked up his  bowl, spat on his hand and took his  first shot. Although he wasn’t vocal, he let it be known that he wasn’t happy with his first play. However, he quickly got back into the swing of things, and tried to teach the younger attendees a thing or two.

 “it just all came back to him as soon as he saw the green”

His care worker worried about his balance, as he can be unsteady. But he was so focussed on playing that he didn’t wobble an inch. His care worker afterwards told us: “Seeing him come alive like that was amazing – it just all came back to him as soon as he saw the green.”

It later emerged that Alex had been a champion bowler at that very club and we found the name on the leaders’ board in the clubhouse from 1959 and 1974.

it provided a bit of ‘me time’

It wasn’t just Alex finding his feet. The other players told us about the positive impact that bowling had – not just during play, but also in the anticipation of the weekly activity and reliving it afterwards. Some people preferred to spectate but said they found it a ‘soothing and calming’ activity to watch. Or that it provided a bit of ‘me time’ away from the challenges of daily life.

We’re looking forward to revisiting the group to carry out some video interviews with people living with dementia, their carers, Sporting memories staff and volunteers and the Wishaw South Bowling Club members who volunteered their time to make it all happen.

This work is supported with funding from the Life Changes Trust. The Trust is funded by The National Lottery Community Fund.




  • Posted by Outside The Box 2019 - our best bits - Outside The Box on December 20th 2019
    […] and supporting people to enjoy and spend time outdoors more. We were appointed evaluators of Life Changes Trust ‘Get Outdoors’ programme which funds six different projects to encourage people living with dementia and their carers to […]
  • Posted by Get Outdoors Projects Get Together - Outside The Box on October 22nd 2019
    […] to ‘get outdoors’ in different ways through a wide range of different activities including playing bowls, making ponds and birdfeeders, and spending time outside in […]

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