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Housing and Connection to nature for people with dementia: findings from the INDEPENDENT Project
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Dr Grant Gibson
Gibson G, Chalfont G, Clarke P, Torrington J, Sixsmith A
Journal of Housing for the Elderly
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This paper reports on the qualitative findings of the first phase of the INDEPENDENT Project, an EPSRC funded EQUAL 4 consortium project in the UK that aims to investigate enabling environments for people with dementia. The overall project focus is on wellbeing and quality of life for people in different types of housing, with particular focus on the possible roles technology can play in maintaining the person's independence as long as possible. Connection to nature, access to the outdoors, and participation in nature-based activities were among a wide range of enjoyable activities reported by study participants living in their own homes or in residential care. First, an overview of connection to nature for people with dementia and the importance of this connection within their home environments are given. Secondly, the research study is described and data from interviews with people with dementia and from focus groups with family and professional carers including access to, and preferences for nature are summarized. Multiple factors enabling or challenging a person's participation in nature-related activities included personal factors, formal support, social networks, as well as cultural and spiritual aspects. These factors are briefly described and compared. Lastly, factors of the built environment and differences between building types are presented and conclusions drawn.
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