Award-winning dementia-friendly swimming project launches in Hackney


An award-winning project that helps people living with dementia enjoy the benefits of swimming has launched in Hackney.

The Dementia Friendly Swimming Project, which was piloted in Durham and Manchester in February, opened today (19 November) in Clissold Leisure Centre.

Swimming helps reduce anxiety by clearing the mind and relaxing the body. It also offers important opportunities for people to socialise, reducing feelings of loneliness and isolation.

The expansion of the project, which has been recognised at the Alzheimer’s Society Dementia Awards 2015 and the Spirit of Manchester Awards, was launched at the Clissold pool with Sports Minister Tracey Crouch; Cllr Jonathan McShane, Hackney Council’s Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture; as well as representatives from the ASA (Amateur Swimming Association) and the Alzheimer’s Society.

Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council
This is an excellent initiative for people in Hackney that will see individuals presented with a new way to boost mental wellbeing, while fulfilling an activity that can bring with it a real sense of achievement.
Cllr Jonathan McShane, Cabinet Member for Health, Social Care and Culture, Hackney Council

Dementia is one of the key health challenges facing society today, with around 670,000 people in England living with dementia, and an estimated 550,000 carers.

Adam Paker, Chief Executive of the ASA, said: “Over the next two years we want to create a network of over 100 dementia-friendly pools that are safe and welcoming for all, ensuring that no one living with dementia misses out on being able to enjoy swimming and the many health and social benefits that it offers.”

Research shows that low-impact exercise can help to improve the quality of life for people in all stages of dementia, and that swimming in particular has the added benefits of helping to reduce anxiety, improve a person’s mood and offers an overall sense of physical and mental well-being.

MP Tracey Crouch said: “Staying healthy and active is incredibly important at every stage of life. The Dementia Friendly Swimming Project is a great example of an initiative which does all of these things and more. No-one, including those with dementia, should feel they cannot participate in physical activity.”

The three-year project is supported by the Department of Health’s Innovation, Excellence and Strategic Development Fund, which aims to create a network of more than 100 dementia-friendly swimming pools.

To find out more about the project, including how to become a partner, people can visit: www.swimming.org/DementiaFriendly.