Memory walk takes positive steps for dementia

Mental health workers will walk the Cumbria way using an innovative way of encouraging conversations about dementia.

As they go they will be leaving decorated stones for other travellers to find which will encourage them to talk about dementia.

The stones they leave will have positive messages about dementia to help other walkers who find them to start a discussion about the illness.

It’s to celebrate Dementia Action Week Dementia Action week starts on the 21st May The walk will start on Wednesday 23rd May and staff from Cumbria Partnership NHS Foundation Trust’s Memory & Later Life services will start the 84 mile walk which goes from Ulverston to Carlisle, in relays.

David Storm, Senior Clinical Services Manager for the Trust’s memory services said:

“The memory and later life team were really keen to do something a little bit different for dementia action week this year and we wanted to get as many people involved as possible.

“Our teams cover the whole county so we thought we would try and get the whole county involved!

“It is so important that we start to talk about this illness, Dementia needs to be talked about, it is not the illness it once was. People can live a very full life with dementia now and the earlier that you are diagnosed then the better the chances of us being able to slow its progress and enable people to continue to live well. It’s true there is still no cure however there are both medications and non medical interventions available that may help with some types of dementia and stop symptoms progressing for a while. This is one reason why it’s important to go to the GP as soon as you suspect there’s a problem. These are the messages that we are keen to get across.”

Staff from all disciplines are joining the walk including community mental health teams, in-patient teams and children’s mental health teams, as well as support from University of Cumbria and Alzheimer’s society.

Josie Harbison from Team leader from the south Lakes memory and later life team said:

“A member of my team has already got the stones decorated; each has different quotes and facts about dementia which we will leave along the trail. We also have posters with the same facts on so that along the trail the staff have their photo taken with the posters every mile so we can document the walk and share on social media.”

Miriam Baird, Senior Commissioning Officer for Morecambe Bay Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) added:

“Dementia is everyone’s business; most people know of someone with dementia whether it be a family member, neighbour, friend or just someone they see around town. Understanding how our small actions can have a big impact on the lives of people affected by dementia is vitally important and raising awareness through the memory walk and the leaving of decorated stones with positive messages to help enable this is a fantastic idea.

We hope people across the route will get involved and cheer the teams on.”

The Mental Health and Learning Disabilities Team at NHS North Cumbria Clinical Commissioning Group said:

“This is a great and touching way to raise awareness of dementia. It will help get people talking about the illness and gain a better understanding of it, and we will be wishing the walkers well along the way and encouraging people to share their messages where they can.”

At the end of the trail a well-earned celebratory barbeque will be enjoyed.

If anyone would like to join the team they will be updating their journey where possible on social media. 

The route is as follows:

Stage one-  15 miles. The journey begins at Ulverston and weaves up along the shores of Coniston Water before finishing in the village of Coniston

Stage two – 11 mile. Begins in Coniston and weaves up past tarn how and Elterwater before ending in Great Langdale.

Stage three – 15 miles. A beautiful walk that stretches up Mickleden and Langstrath valleys, through Borrowdale and the along the shore of Derwent Water finishing in Keswick.

Stage four – 14 miles. This is one of the more challenges and begins in the valley between Blencathra and Skiddaw before stretching along the river Caldew and over High Pike the route then continues north between the Caldbeck fells before finishing in Caldbeck itself.

Stage five - 15 miles. The final stretch of the route continues along the route of the River Caldew and takes you through picturesque villages, keeping to woodland an farm paths before reaching the great border city of Carlisle.