Dementia Woodland Well-being

Since 2004, Circle of Life Rediscovery CIC has been co-developing and offering highly beneficial nature-centred learning and therapeutic experiences for young people, adults and families in Sussex, along with innovative continuing professional development for the health, wellbeing and teaching professionals who are supporting them.

Our ‘3 branch’ nature therapeutic model is based on current research and includes:

1. Bringing people together for social bonding
2. Taking place in natural environments - often a woodland
3. Providing meaningful activities

Our programmes draw on the woodland as a resource for health and wellbeing (e.g The Woodland Project, Early Intervention Psychosis Group, Dementia Woodland Wellbeing Project). We have a long-term partnership with the Child and Adolescent Mental Health Service in East Sussex (since 2009) delivering funded nature intervention programmes for teenagers and families; Family Intensive Support Service-Learning Disability Team & Specialist Older Adult Mental Health Service.

Please contact us directly to receive our Green Tonic Package and Report.

Natural England (2013) Greening Dementia Report acknowledged that access to the natural environment benefits people's mental and physical health and sense of wellbeing and contributes to their quality of life. In addition the potential huge cost savings to the health service from improved access to green space as being significant.

The report concluded that although the views of people living with dementia and their carers needed to be sought in terms of the benefits and barriers of accessing the natural environment, and the evidence of the benefits of access to nature needs to be strengthened, stakeholder feedback suggested that there was also a need to start to develop and deliver projects and initiatives in order to test a variety of interventions and contribute to the evidence base.

There had been no studies at the time that compared people at different points along the continuum of the dementia condition (i.e. those people with mild compared to those with advanced dementia) that would help to better inform the type and timing of interventions more appropriately to the needs of the client.

Furthermore, it was noted that among people with less knowledge of dementia, such as staff from greenspace organisations, there is a clear desire to learn how they can ensure that their activities meet the needs of people living with dementia.

The follow up report commissioned by Natural England, "Is it Nice Outside" (2016) sought the views of people living with dementia and their carers. It aimed to investigate the key benefits from engaging in the natural environment, barriers to them doing this and the changes necessary to make the natural environment more accessible.

It highlighted that people with dementia are more likely to experience barriers that limit their access to the natural environment. However, in terms of regular engagement with the outdoors and outdoor activity the evidence from the report indicated staying close to home, the presence of water, walking and wildlife watching are the aspects which are likely to appeal most.

Target group:

People with a diagnosis of Mild Cognitive Impairment (MCI); mild to moderate dementia.


  • To work in partnership with the person living with dementia, their relatives and carers to support them to achieve their personal goals and priorities.
  • To create and provide a person-centred nature intervention programme which addresses equality for all and facilitates positive risk taking, compassion and connection.
  • To draw upon the natural environment to provide opportunities for personal restoration, to increase social interaction and general wellbeing and to reduce social isolation and loneliness.

We are an award winning and influential social enterprise, most recently recognised with a Sussex Partnership Positive Practice Award (2015), a SPARK Environmental Achievement Award (2016) highly recommended status at the National Innovation in Child, Adolescent and Young People's Mental Health Awards. In April 2017 we won the ITV People's Project competition (Family Disabilty and Mental Health Project) on the basis of public support and a popular vote.

Consistent with the Department of Health’s VCSE Health and Wellbeing Fund’s focus, Circle of Life of Rediscovery is committed to improving equality and reducing health inequalities. Socioeconomic inequality in mental wellbeing has been shown to be 40% narrower among those who report good access to green/recreational areas, compared with those with poorer access (Evidence Statement DEFRA 2017).

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