Dr Eilidh Macrae, Lead Researcher for the project and Lecturer in the School of Health and Life Sciences at UWS, said: “Our findings showed the reach of properly inclusive walking football programmes and the positive impact they can have in terms of the social benefits for participants and their supporters and carers.
“Our research provides best practice guidelines for creating dementia-friendly walking football programmes, and guidance for those across the community working to make sports more accessible to people living with dementia.
“We hope to build on this research by working with community organisations and sports governing bodies directly. Our aims are to work with the sport sector and use our findings to enhance the skills of the sport workforce, equipping all sports workers and volunteers with the knowledge to confidently work inclusively with people living with dementia.”
Dr Eilidh Macrae, Lead Researcher for the project and Lecturer in the School of Health and Life Sciences at UWS
The research is another example of the pioneering work underway at University of the West of Scotland to tackle dementia. UWS is home to the Alzheimer Scotland Centre for Policy and Practice (ASCPP) – a centre of excellence in advancing dementia policy and practice through education, applied research and social enterprise. Dr Liz Carlin and Dr Rhoda MacRae from the School of Health and Life Sciences were the co-investigators.
Chris Kelly, Dementia Advisor at Alzheimer Scotland and passionate footballer, was working with men living with dementia who wanted to play football but were unable to due to health issues or the inaccessibility of regular walking football programmes.
Commenting on the study, Chris said: “It was amazing being part of the project helping to make sure nobody faces dementia alone, and I am very grateful for the support from the team at UWS.
At a very basic level people loved having the opportunity to get together with a group of friends for a ‘kick about’, but I also had people stating it had made their dreams come true playing for their team at Hampden. There was an incredible atmosphere around the place and the benefits were there for all to see. People living with dementia are regularly faced with stigma, particularly around frailty and the need for protection. This report shows that with right support and good partnership working, people living with dementia can be included and participate in a wide range of services. Through working together on similar projects, we can help people live well with dementia.
Chris Kelly, Dementia Advisor at Alzheimer Scotland
“There are plans in place to start walking football elsewhere in Glasgow and Lanarkshire when national restrictions allow, I am really looking forward to seeing these develop with the help of this report.”
The full research report has been published in the journal ‘Sport in Society’. Going forward, the team aim to work with the sport sector directly to encourage the use of the best practice guidance which this research has developed. The team will also conduct similar studies looking at a wider range of sports.
You can access the full report here.