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The DEMFIT-Toolkit

The DEMFIT-Toolkit: characteristics and core components needed to implement an exercise class for people with dementia in the community

What we are doing?

The project is using a mixed methods approach including: a mixed methods systematic review investigating the characteristics of effective exercise interventions for people with dementia and facilitators and barriers to their attendance; a survey to establish how many and what type of exercise classes are available for older people living with dementia in the East Midlands; observations of classes and focus groups to understand barriers and facilitators to attendance at classes; a Delphi study to guide the development of an implementation framework and a toolkit to support the implementation of exercise classes for people with dementia in community settings.

Why we are doing it?

Exercise has been shown to provide health and well-being benefits to people living with dementia. However to continue to be of benefit exercise needs to be continued. It is important to consider how exercise is provided for people living with dementia and their families to improve their wellbeing and support long-term participation. Exercise classes are a useful way of supporting continued participation but we don’t yet know how to design and carry out these classes to encourage people with dementia to attend and continue to attend. Guidelines to support this would be a useful resource if available. 

What the benefits will be and to whom?

Exercise has been shown to increase strength, balance, mobility and cardiovascular fitness, potentially leading to subsequent improvements in function and independence. Exercise has also been shown to improve psychological well-being and health related quality of life. The provision of the toolkit will enable these benefits to be sustained for people living with different types of dementia and at different stages.  

There may also be additional benefits for people living with dementia and their carers including reduction of social isolation and loneliness and enabling of a peer support environment.  

Who we are working with?

I have a supervisory team with experience of working with people with dementia on a variety of projects, intervention development, implementation science, qualitative research and co-research with PPI members. I will be working with people living with dementia throughout the project to ensure that their views are at the center of the development of the toolkit. I will also work with a variety of academics, healthcare professionals, exercise staff and PPI representatives to ensure that the implementation framework and toolkit have input from different stakeholders who may use the toolkit alongside those who may commission its use in the future. 


Annabelle Long, PhD Student, University Of Nottingham,