Supporting carers into physical activity


HACT have published a review of Cotman Housing’s project All About You, which aimed to support carers of people with dementia to be more physically active. The report identifies key learnings from the project.

Frances Harkin, Head of Research at HACT, said:

“Over half a million people in the UK care for someone with dementia and most are not doing physical activity. The All About You project was funded by Sport England and launched by Cotman Housing in late 2018 to engage this group of people and support them to be more physically active.”

“Unfortunately, the Covid-19 pandemic forced the project to end early and meant that the number of participants was lower than anticipated. However, the project’s initial findings were still important in showing that many carers need support but are not receiving it. Cotman’s experience adds to a body of evidence and will hopefully support other organisations to deliver effective services to carers.”

These are the key findings of the retrospective review,  All About You, that HACT has published today.

The report found that:

  • Whether they wanted to or not, many carers just did not feel able to take time out for themselves to exercise. Supporting them to do this is a necessary first step, before physical activity can even be considered.
  • Any future project promoting physical activity amongst carers should consider it a two-step process. Support the carer to take breaks from their caring duties first, and then work on getting them to use that time for physical activity.
  • Support needs to be bespoke, to match the specific needs and capacity carers have.
  • Projects like All About You have to be resourced effectively. It takes time to engage with carers.
  • Similarly, projects need longer lead in times. Allowing a period of time for engagement and promotion prior to the project starting would increase the chances of success.
  • Be prepared to be inventive. Cotman had planned innovations, such as sending trainers into participants’ homes, that could have increased participation. 


For further information about our research services, please contact Frances Harkin.