About Stepping into Nature

About Us

Led by Dorset Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB), this three year £320 thousand Big-Lottery funded project (2017-2020) uses Dorset’s natural and cultural landscape to provide activities and sensory-rich places for older people, including those with dementia and their carers.

Our main project aims are:

For older people, those with dementia and their carers to…

  • Improve psychologically and physically
  • Reduce feelings of social isolation and loneliness
  • Increase motivation and independence through increased provision and information for accessing the natural landscape
  • Increase confidence and life skills

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What we do

There is three major delivery aspects to this project.

  • Work with local organisations such as Dorset Wildlife Trust, Dorset Forest School & Dorset History Centre to support and fund the delivery of inclusive activities inspired by or within nature.
  • Provide funding for communities and organisations to help create more inclusive, accessible and enjoyable green spaces
  • Train staff and volunteers, particularly those within environmental organisations, to become dementia friendly

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Why we do it

There is 850 000 people in the UK with dementia. The number of cases is increasing because people are living longer, and it is thought that by 2025 the number will have increased by one million and by 2050 two million.

In Dorset 12, 857 people, aged 65 and above are estimated to have dementia. In addition there is 50 thousand unpaid carers which includes their partners, family and neighbours.

Unfortunately these people face stigma, fear and many barriers in their daily life, including accessing and enjoying nature. This can lead to loneliness, low confidence and motivation and, as a result, their physical and psychological wellbeing deteriorates. By providing inclusive nature based activities, older people, those with dementia and their carers we can help to reduce and even prevent this from occurring. People can be with likeminded others in relatable situations and continue living physically heathy and mentally active lives. 

You can view the evaluation report from the Stepping into Nature pilot project to see what a benefit it has already had and the barriers we are trying to overcome. Click here to view.

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Evaluation, evaluation and more evaluation!

Continual evaluation is key. Are we doing what we said? Are we making a difference? Can we do it better? 

Everyone knows that being outdoors is good for you, it boosts your mood, makes you feel healthier and you get to talk to people. However capturing this benefit in a way that shows it is good for you in the eyes of the health sector for them to fund future activities is a another task all together. Data needs to be vigorous, robust and valid in the same way medical research is done.

Therefore we teamed up with Public Health Dorset and Visual Insights to work on an Evaluation Framework. This will allow us to capture the benefits through various valid qualitative and quantitative methods. We are implementing throughout the duration of the project.

We want to share how we are undertaking our evaluation for other similar projects to benefit. Email us to request a copy of our Evaluation Framework. If you use our guide please credit us using Stepping into Nature, 'Evaluation Framework' 2018. We are happy to help and discuss what we have learnt, so please get in contact.

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Find us on Facebookand Twitter. If you would like more information please email stepin2nature@dorsetcc.gov.uk or call 01305 224 785.



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