Read the SDRC guest blog below by Dr Rhoda Macrae from the University of the West of Scotland. This blog relates to her research into the impact of the Dementia Friendly Walking Football programme, led by Alzheimer Scotland.

Dr Eilidh Macrae and Dr Rhoda Macrae (no relation!) have secured funding from the R S MacDonald Trust to evaluate the social impact of a pilot, monthly Dementia Friendly Walking Football programme on the lives of men living with dementia and the people who care for them. Chris Kelly, Dementia Advisor from Alzheimer Scotland is coordinating the programme.   Chris was motivated to set an activity up for the many people he spoke with who talked about their love for football and how much they missed playing the game. Some expressed concerns over their lack of physical activity and their weight gains, others talked about the limited services for people living with dementia who are physically active, particularly those under 65. Although the session is open to everyone, the intention was to provide a much needed service in this area.  More about the creation of the project can be found here. The warm up sessions are led by Hampden Sports clinic and have taken place on 6 occasions between April to September this year at Hampden stadium.

At each session everyone gathers in Hampden Stadium café to socialise before the players go to the changing rooms to get ready. All players are divided into teams and given jerseys from the local teams in the Glasgow area: Celtic, Rangers, Queens Park, Partick Thistle, 3rd Lanark and Clyde giving men the opportunity to play at Hampden for the clubs they’ve supported all their lives. Following a physical warm up by the Hampden Sports Clinic staff, short matches are played in the indoor pitch and are led by a referee from Glasgow Life. Supporters cheer on during the very lively games with players trying to keep in the spirit of walking football and not running J. After the games everyone goes out on to the Hampden pitch to enjoy the atmosphere and get their photos taken.  Following lots of changing room banter, it is back to the café for a well-earned refreshment. Alzheimer Scotland staff and volunteers are there throughout for support and advice. You can get a sense of the programme by watching the Hampden Heroes below:


The evaluation is exploring participants’, carers and supporters experiences of this pilot dementia-friendly walking football programme. Dr Liz Carlin is attending the sessions and aim to carry out in-depth semi-structured interviews at two time points with 10 participants, 10 carers and 3 volunteers or staff. The team will explore perceptions of change in relation to health and wellbeing, mind-set, social experiences, social interactions, mood, energy levels and physical activity.
We hope the findings will both inform development of dementia friendly walking football programmes through providing evidence of the social impact of participation on people living with dementia and those who support them. We are also aiming to identify future research pathways based on the pilot-feasibility data. The results will be reported in Spring 2020.

If you would like to know more about those featured in this blog you can follow them on Twitter:

Rhoda Macrae: @macsoda1

Chris Kelly: @CKelly_AlzScot

Liz Carlin: @LizCarlin6

Eilidh Macrae: @Eilidhmacraze