Ripley Leisure Centre holds dementia friendly swimming sessions

Swimming saves the NHS 357 million per year and improves the lives of many people who are battling dementia.
Swimming saves the NHS 357 million per year and improves the lives of many people who are battling dementia.

Peter Scott, 73, said: "I’m not suffering from dementia, I’m living well with dementia"

A new report has revealed that swimming is helping to make huge savings for the NHS and provides a better quality of life for those who live with dementia, which is the case for Peter.

READ MORE: Ripley honours the fallen on Remembrance Sunday - in pictures
Peter Scott, 73 from Swanwick, attends Dementia Friendly Swimming sessions at Ripley Leisure Centre once a week, where the pool is closed to the general public.

The mental and physical health benefits of “swimming in a calm, serene space, alongside family, carers and leisure centre staff” is enjoyed by Peter and his friends.

Peter said: “Since I have dementia, I cannot cope with a lot of noise and a lot of people around me. This is ideal. I can swim safely as I know there is someone looking after us.

“I’ve got my own lane now, so I can swim without being impeded at all. It’s just enjoyable. It’s keeping us fit and we meet other people who have got similar conditions.

“This was very important for me, otherwise I wouldn’t be ‘swimming at all. The environment that it is, is a life saver for me.

"I’m not suffering from dementia, I’m living well with dementia.”

New research from Swim England has revealed that “sessions like these are helping to save the NHS and social care system £139,546,106 a year nationally” in treating those living with dementia.

The Value of Swimming report states “more than £10.9 million is saved from dementia care in the East Midlands alone”.

In total, swimming and other “water-based activity” helps save the NHS and social care system “£357 million a year”.

Ripley Leisure Centre manager Jenny Hedgecock believes “more medical professionals need to start advising people of the mental and physical health benefits” of swimming.

Jenny said: “The majority of our swim participants have not come to us via a medical professional or GP route so potentially there is a lot more to be done to promote the health benefits of swimming for people living with dementia.

“Spreading the word of what physical activity is suitable and what other activities are available for people living with dementia is currently disjointed or fragmented.

“We know swimming is extremely beneficial, you only have to look at the faces of those swimming.They are smiling, chatting and laughing while they swim.

“We’ve witnessed improvements in water confidence and swimming ability and the families have also confirmed how much more relaxed their loved ones are after swimming.

"It gives them the opportunity to be physically active in a safe and secure environment.

“Some participants have also mentioned that their mobility is improving and that their blood pressure is dropping.

"It’s also important to note that having a cuppa and chat after the swim session is equally important from a social engagement and interaction point of view for all of those living with dementia.

"It allows them the opportunity to share experiences.”

READ MORE: Angry former partner damaged ex's front and back door locks during dispute
Jenny believes that anyone living with dementia, their families or carers who are considering swimming session should “just try it” as she states that “people living with dementia benefit from having a weekly routine”.

Jenny added: “Being physically active needs to be part of that routine. Our swim sessions have given people that chance as well as giving them the opportunity to make new friends.”

Jane Nickerson, Swim England chief executive, said: “The Value of Swimming report proves what those involved with swimming have known for a long time.

"It truly has the power to help people live longer, better, happier lives.

"For the first time, it has highlighted how swimming saves our health and social care system millions of pounds a year and the vital role it plays in tackling some of our biggest health conditions.”