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Care homes across Forth Valley are being invited to sign up to a new health and wellbeing project which has seen sixty residents at a Stirling care home being presented with certificates for completing a Natural Health Award.


This involved taking part in a number of outdoor activities including walking by a river, painting rocks, planting vegetable seeds and stopping to smell and touch flowers.


The award scheme at Wallace View Care Home in Stirling was a pilot project organised by the NHS Forth Valley’ s Health Promotion team and is believed to be one of the first award schemes of its type in Scotland aimed specifically at care home residents. It also saw two carers achieve facilitator awards.


Elaine Cochrane, NHS Forth Valley Health Promotion officer, said: “The Natural Health Award provides care home staff with a practical resource which gives structure to activities that promote mental wellbeing, physical activity and life-long learning in the outdoors.

“There is compelling evidence that being in nature has therapeutic benefits for all of us, whatever our age.  It is increasingly recognised that there are significant benefits for older people having contact with nature and the Natural Health Award supports this.”

Care Home Manager, Maria Garai, added: “Lockdown really had an impact on resident’s mental health. Taking part in the Natural Health Award has totally lifted their spirits. Families and relatives also got involved. Getting outside has made a massive improvement to residents’ mental wellbeing and they are more physically active. They are walking down by the river, doing nature trails, painting and out in the garden. It’s so good to see that they have smiles on their faces again.”

Families also noticed the award had lifted the morale of their loved ones and how much they had enjoyed the freedom of being in the fresh air.

It is now hoped that the Natural Health Award Scheme can be extended to other care homes across Forth Valley in partnership with NHS Forth Valley’s Health Promotion team. Any care homes interested in finding out more about the award can contact elaine.cochrane@nhs.scot

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