A pioneering new golf project that enables people to continue enjoying their golf when diagnosed with dementia is set to launch in Scotland.
With the support of Life Changes Trust and Mearns Golf Academy, Golf In Society will be piloting golf days that keep people living well at their local golf club.
“In November we tested the water with a four week golf programme at the Mearns Academy in partnership with Sporting Memories. The results were amazing to witness and made us realise there was demand for our service in Scotland,” said Anthony Blackburn, Founder of Golf in Society. “Securing the support from Life Changes Trust was crucial. Without it we would not have been able to start our project in Scotland. As a small social enterprise it’s often very difficult to gain funding and support for your social mission. When we met with the Life Changes Trust team, they “got it” straight away and signposted us to the right funding sources for our project”.
Golf In Society is a social enterprise with a mission to improve the lives of an ageing population by introducing them to golf and putting golf clubs at the heart of their local community.
The Scottish pilot is based on two years of practical experience of delivering dementia golf sessions in Lincoln, the UK’s first dementia friendly golf club.
Golfers and carers both got a lot from the sessions in Lincoln. One golfer said, “I find speaking hard from the illness – I can’t get the words – so this is important as I practice my talking – and here it doesn’t matter we are all similar.”
There are many benefits to playing golf, including spending time outside, and getting some exercise. “We find that many people who have enjoyed golf throughout their life often leave the game once diagnosed – we are passionate about changing this. We are extremely excited about the Scottish pilot. We firmly believe that once proven there is the opportunity to create a network of dementia friendly golf clubs across Scotland,” Anthony explained.
The pilot will run for a year and include a holistic evaluation of the impact of the golf days on people living with dementia and their families as well as considering the wider social and community benefits.
The golf sessions consist of socialising, golf activities and coaching new skills. People get the chance to play sport, make new friends and socialise in relaxed surroundings. At the same time carers get the chance to enjoy a much need respite break.
“Golf was invented in Scotland and is part of the country’s rich sporting history. We want to prove how much golf can play a part in improving the lives of families living with dementia,” Anthony added. “The beauty of our work is that you don’t need to have played golf before to enjoy our sessions. Our unique golf engagement programmes allow people of all backgrounds and abilities to enjoy golf. I suppose you could say that we give people the right to play golf – enable them – even when dementia tries to get in the way”
“We adopt a person-centred approach that allows us to create a “golfing journey” for everyone, allowing them to keep enjoying the game for as long as they want to. After a while we find that the golf becomes secondary, it’s more about people feeling a sense of belonging to something special – something to look forward to. Having the sessions weekly also allows the carers to plan their breaks too.”