Exercise is key to maintaining functional abilities of persons living with dementia, with additional benefits to mental and social well-being. Current dementia-specific exercise programs are insufficient to meet the diverse needs of persons living with dementia. The overarching aim of the DICE project is to improve the number and quality of exercise opportunities accessible to persons living with dementia. The project is guided by a research team of persons with dementia, exercise providers, community organizations, and researchers as equal partners. We created a long-term plan to accomplish the project aim.
First, we conducted 20 focus groups and interviews in Ontario and Northern British Columbia (Canada) to better understand the barriers to exercise and inclusion from diverse perspectives and in a variety of settings. We surveyed providers of dementia-specific exercise programs to understand adaptions they employed to meet the needs of persons living with dementia. Based on knowledge gathered, we identified exercise providers as they key target for DICE tools. By training exercise providers to understand and support persons living with dementia, we can create more inclusive exercise programs. Working collaboratively, we co-designed DICE tool content and format in a workshop with an expanded group of persons living with dementia, care partners, and exercise providers.
The DICE tools include a web-based training module for exercise providers to better understand dementia (and its diversity), the rights of persons living with dementia, benefits of exercise, and adaptations to delivery that can support inclusion. A training manual and resources for with persons living with dementia and their care partners complement the training module. The DICE tools are currently being piloted. We expect to launch the DICE tools in 2021 to promote inclusion of persons living with dementia in community exercise programs so they can reap the benefits of exercise.