Are we creating a world where people with dementia can thrive?

Neil Mapes, CEO of Dementia Adventure shares why he thinks it’s good to take positive risks and get people outdoors. 

Pictured: James and Maureen McKillop, Nancy McAdam, Agnes Houston, Teresa Davies, Lorraine Brown, Jayne Goodrick, Tim Osman and Joy Watson (Chris Roberts was also with us on the day).

Dementia Adventure joined the National Dementia Action Alliance (NDAA) because we are a solution focused organisation; interested in what people can do. We want to work together with like-minded individuals and organisations to positively re-frame what it means to live with dementia. Whilst there is a place for policy, debate and discussion we firmly believe in the Margaret Mead adage “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it’s the only thing that ever has.”

The NDAA is now a large group of committed citizens and organisations and together we can be greater than the sum of our parts. The ‘Dementia World’ referred to in a previous NDAA blog by the wonderful Beth Britton has certainly improved since NDAA began in 2010 and Dementia Adventure has had a role in that positive change. But, now more than ever, we must ask ourselves:


What are we really doing to create a world where people living with dementia can thrive?

At Dementia Adventure we work to fulfil our NDAA action plan and work in support of other national and local DAA members to help them fulfil their plans. So, what have we been doing? Our 2020 Dementia Adventure business plan has key objectives, all linked to our developing NDAA action plan:

1.Training: We all know that getting out in the fresh air and having a sense of adventure in our lives makes us feel better, and for people who often spend much of their time indoors it can be doubly beneficial. Yet many people living with dementia, whether in care or in their own home, can face barriers to accessing these benefits.


Dementia Adventure helps to negotiate these barriers, equipping delegates with the evidence; practical skills and confidence to help people living with dementia retain a sense of adventure in their lives. NDAA members can watch our latest Training film and download our new training brochure here. Thanks to April Dobson of The Abbeyfield Society (also a NDAA member) for sharing her thoughts about Dementia Adventure for the film.


  1. Holidays:Just last week we supported a small group of people living with dementia and their family carers to enjoy a holiday on the Isle of Wight and this holiday was our 50th to date. You can help us reach our 100th holiday by watching and sharing one of our new holiday films with someone you know.
  2. Investment:Last year Dementia Adventure became fully charitable after starting life in 2009 as a social enterprise. There were many reasons for making this change but one key driver was that there were an increasing number of individuals and organisations wanting to both invest in and benefit from our work. As a charity, we are excited about the new opportunities ahead of us to make possible some of the dreams we have held for a long time, like our Family Carers Seminars and plans for the Dementia Adventure Centre.


  1. Volunteering:Hayley Mott is our Volunteer Co-ordinator funded by the John Ellerman Foundation. She has made an amazing impact since she started and Dementia Adventure now has 68 volunteers registered with us, 45 of whom are supporting 24 holidays to happen this year. Just this week we had a group of amazing volunteers from all over the UK at our office for our two-day bespoke volunteer training course. There are a range of volunteering opportunities available at Dementia Adventure as we look to expand our volunteer base to over 100 people. If you know someone who can help us, then there is more information on our volunteering pages.


All of our key objectives are linked to our NDAA action plan

Also in February, we gathered a rather special group of volunteers at our office in Essex to form our first Special Interest Group for Outdoor Activity. Eagle eyed readers will spot some familiar faces in the photo above and some amazing activists that have blessed us by joining this group, and will be working closely with us this year to inform and guide all that we do.

  1. Evaluation:Dementia Adventure is an evidence led organisation and we strive to more fully understand how our services impact and benefit the people we serve. We are soon to publish our Social Impact Report for 2016 which will highlight how 73% of carers who came on holiday with us in 2016 felt enabled to sustain their caring role, gaining hope and resilience. It will also highlight training work in England and Scotland where our training is inspiring programmes resulting in reduced falls and isolation for people with dementia whilst increasing appetites and sleep as a result of a wide variety of outdoor activity. Our social impact report and all our other research publications are available here.


Dementia Adventure remains a small organisation with ambitious plans and our primary objective is to remain at the forefront of high quality delivery and research into positive risk taking and outdoor activity with people living with dementia, led and guided by our customers and beneficiaries. We hope that our plans to thrive will be shared by NDAA members and we look forward to inspiring each other, working in partnership, building innovation and a better world with dementia.

Neil will be Chairperson at our next NDAA members event -Innovative Approaches to Dementia Care and Support. Find out more about Dementia Adventure through their action plan.


© National Dementia Action Alliance 2021. All rights reserved

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