Dementia Resources for Eating, Activity and Meaningful Inclusion

Education and resources to include and support people living with dementia in physical activity, healthy eating, mealtimes, and other wellness activities.

Who could benefit from reading this?

  • Health and community service providers across Canada (and beyond) who deliver physical activity, healthy eating, mealtime, or other wellness programs and services.
  • People living with dementia and their care partners who are interested in improving their well-being through physical activity and maintaining a healthy diet.
  • Organizations and service providers interested in using the lessons learned and resources created by this project to create or modify a similar program.

Review the Before you begin section for foundational knowledge that will be helpful for any dementia community initiative.

Key information

Who is this project for? Community service providers, people living with dementia and their care partners

Project Lead: University of Waterloo with the University of Northern British Columbia

Project partners: Active Health Solutions, Alzheimer Society of BC, Alzheimer Society of Ontario, Canadian Nutrition Society, Canadian Society of Exercise Physiology, City of Kitchener, Dementia Advocacy Canada, Muslim Social Services of Kitchener-Waterloo, Ontario Brain Institute, Ontario Kinesiology Association, Schlegel-UW Research Institute for Aging, Waterloo Regional Dementia Advisory Group, YMCA of Three Rivers

Project status: complete, 2020-2023

Get in touch:

Dr. Laura Middleton, Associate Professor, University of Waterloo

Project story

Background:

People living with dementia have the right to equitable support for their health, wellbeing, and function. Inclusion and support of people living with dementia should be a key priority for service providers. The purpose of the Dementia Resources for Eating, Activity, and Meaningful Inclusion (DREAM) project is to increase the number and quality of physical activity, healthy eating, and wellness programs and services accessible to people living with dementia. To accomplish this, the DREAM project co-developed a toolkit that includes a website, videos, resources and education modules to equip service providers with the knowledge and skills to include and support people living with dementia in their services and programs. The DREAM resources and tools also empower people living with dementia and their care partners with the knowledge and confidence to engage in physical activity and maintain a healthy diet. These materials were all co-developed with a steering committee that included people living with dementia, care partners, health care providers and community service providers to ensure that the resulting materials met the needs of the end users.

Goals:

DREAM promotes the inclusion of people living with dementia in high quality physical activity, healthy aging and wellness programs by:

  • Supporting service providers to learn about dementia, understand the rights of people living with dementia to inclusion, the benefits of physical activity, healthy eating and mealtimes to people living with dementia and ways to support people with dementia access and use their services
  • Empowering people living with dementia and care partners with the knowledge and confidence to take up physical activity and healthy eating in order to improve health, function, and wellbeing

Impact

Project findings:

People living with dementia and care partners reported:

  • Improved attitudes and confidence for physical activity and healthy eating
  • Improved physical activity and healthy eating
  • Improved feelings of mental and physical well-being
  • Improved feelings of inclusion

Community service providers reported:

  • Increased knowledge of dementia, and understanding of physical activity and healthy eating
  • Improved attitudes on inclusion, physical activity and nutrition for people living with dementia and care partners
  • Increased confidence in supporting people with dementia and uptake of dementia-inclusive practices
  • Increased adoption of dementia-inclusive practices on organizational level

 

Want to know more? Download this supplementary resource outlining the data collection methods, the evaluation evidence and the tools used.

Experiences:

“…what I found the DREAM modules helped me with was my confidence, getting that knowledge into play. So instead of just spitting facts at me, I found the whole training and all the information gave me ways to apply all these strategies and demonstrate techniques.” – Community service provider

“Oh, using it, it was very informative. And a lot of the stuff into it, I very much liked because it told me stuff I didn’t know and it told me stuff I should be doing and this sort of thing. That way I was very impressed with it.” – Person living with dementia

“And I sort of got the feeling from him that it was like, it was a relief to find out some of these things. And the one thing that really came up was, when we were watching the one video, and they were shooting boats. David’s comment was, “I didn’t know I could still do that. I guess I am allowed to.” And I said, “Well, yes.”- Care partner

 

Insights

Lessons learned:

  • Free, web-based education is a valuable approach to ensuring the long term sustainability of resources and tools.
  • There can be seasonal challenges in recruitment during spring and summer months. Support from project partners' networks and formal/informal connections with people living with dementia and care partners (e.g., Dementia Connections) can help promote continued recruitment during these times, as well as year-round.
  • While developing relationships with individual staff at an organization is valuable, developing a relationship with organizations as a whole can enable engagement of new representatives when others leave their role, the organization, or when priorities and workload change.
  • Relationships with a range of project partners in different geographic areas and organizational types are valuable and require time to develop. For DREAM, having diverse project partners was helpful in spreading the toolkit across Canada, reaching as many community service providers as possible. Where possible, create mutually beneficial relationships where you can support one another’s work.
  • Invest in ongoing engagement efforts, particularly in underserved groups. This engagement requires continuous efforts to build relationships and involve partners.
  • For similar wellness and physical activity-focused projects or initiatives, exploring targeted recruitment strategies that pair people living with dementia with trained service providers could be valuable for recruitment.
  • When creating eLearning modules, offering a certificate of completion can encourage organizations to promote training to their employees as part of ongoing professional development.

This project was funded by the Public Health Agency of Canada under the Dementia Community Investment (DCI).

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