The Watermemories Swimming Club
Care staff personal testimonials about participants involved in Watermemories Swimming Club exercise program for people with dementia report increased engagement, in addition to other positive behavioural and physical traits. However, while positive trends have emerged statistical analysis has not reflected the improvements reported. Project delivery shortcoming in recruitment and adherence are felt to be partially to blame for this. In addition, the feasibility of offsite delivery has also been questioned. Nevertheless, the program continues to grow in reputation as a novel and enjoyable approach to exercising adults with dementia in residential aged care.
Data collection was finalised for the second delivery of the Watermemories Swimming Club project just before Xmas 2013. With data analysis also finalised the team are busy building publications to present the finding of this research. In addition, based on the work to date a Queensland Health Fellowship has been received to extend the delivery across the state of Queensland, with the intension of addressing a number of the shortcoming of previous deliveries. Specifically, the project was significantly hampered by recruitment and adherence issues. Primarily, facilities were hesitant to commit to a program that asked them to bus clients to an offsite location for swimming with resource issue (staff availability and numbers) a significant barrier to involvement. Once enrolled, similar resource issues, complicated by participant status on the day of training, compromised adherence during the 12 week delivery. A critical review about the issues encountered in delivery is being prepared for submission. To date, analysis while revealing some trends has not shown statistical significance for any behavioural or physical measure collected. Nevertheless, given the growing body of positive evidence that exercise is an effective preventative of and treatment for those with dementia, we hope that a publication detailing our outcomes and the issues we encountered can serve as a training tool for other researchers wishing to purse similar pathways of delivery. Beyond the research side of the project, the Watermemories Swimming Club continues to grow in reputation as a novel and enjoyable approach to exercising adults with dementia in residential aged care. With few program risk assessed for this population, and in contrast to the alternative of doing nothing, the Watermemories Swimming Club is a fun and enjoyable way for the very old with advanced dementia to be physical active.
Dr Henwood participated in our video series the Brains Behind Dementia Research which can be found here - http://dementiaresearchfoundation.org.au/watch/brains-behind-dementia-research-dr-tim-henwood
Dr Henwood is a Research Fellow based at the University of Queensland's Blue Care Research & Practice Development Centre.
While the Watermemories Swimming Club program continues both in a research sense and delivered by residential aged care facilities throughout Australia, Dr Tim Henwood has stepped aside from the project due to his growing commitment to his Sarcopenia pathway of research. He continues to work in dementia assessing functional measure validity (Ben Fox, AADRF PhD candidate) and looking at the implication of resistance training on physical and cognitive status as part of Jennie Hewitt’s (PhD candidate) falls prevention project. Given the difficulties encountered with offsite training, Dr Henwood intends to trial more programs on-site looking primarily at the implication to sarcopenia, with cognitive wellbeing an important secondary outcome.