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Nudge to Budge – Breaking open the box on physical activity

‘Nudge to Budge’ is about building physical activity messaging, prompts and guidance into communications and appointments along the dementia pathway. The purpose of this is twofold: to encourage health and social care professionals to raise awareness of the importance of physical activity through making use of existing interventions, and to provide simple prompts/cues to people affected by dementia on what they can do every day to be more active, and why it’s important for them.

How does it work?

  • ‘Nudge to budge’ aims to prompt health and social care professionals to raise physical activity in conversations with people affected by dementia. This would be through electronic ‘nudges’, or pop-ups, on their existing system, and adding cues to their working environment, for example, posters or desktop screensavers.
  • The prompts would encourage professionals to use existing resources to start these conversations, including from Moving Medicine - one minute conversations for physical activity and Alzheimer’s Society – physical activity and ways to be active.
  • The conversation would then be followed up through ‘nudges’ or prompts to people living with dementia, reminding them about the importance of physical activity and how to be more active. Prompts could include adding physical activity messaging in standard communications (e.g. letters / emails) that are sent from memory clinics (and potentially other services) to people living with dementia.
  • This messaging would also link to a digital ‘Online Resource Box’ to help people with dementia break open the box on physical activity. This ‘box’ would comprise links to informative resources which may already exist, plus any new resources, showing that people at any stage of dementia and physical ability can move more in their everyday life. In the box, you would find guidance and case studies on movement around the home, other ways to keep active, and benefits of physical activity. Signposting to national and local physical activity opportunities would also be included.

How does it benefit people affected by dementia?

  • There are long waiting lists and times of uncertainty for people waiting for a diagnosis as well as a lot of unknowns after a diagnosis – this is the prime time to give people positive and practical things to focus on and enjoy in their day-to-day lives.
  • This would help encourage people to take control and change behaviours now to live better lives for longer after a diagnosis.

Questions for you (don't worry if you can't answer them all)

  • How much do you like this idea (from 1-10, 10 being high)?
  • Is there anything that exists like this already?
  • How do we help professionals to prioritise this and allow time for these conversations to take place?
  • Can you share, from your experience, how ‘standard’ communications are currently received across the three nations (England, Wales, Northern Ireland) and where messaging around physical activity could be incorporated?
  • How can we ensure there is consistent messaging for people with co-morbidities?
  • How could these conversations take place more regularly (for example, prompts at a GP annual health check or incorporated into annual review messaging)?
  • Can you tell us any barriers you think there are in creating these prompts on the current systems used – how might we overcome these?
  • How might we utilise and influence existing approaches, like social prescribing?
  • How do we embed these messages into the Dementia Quality Standards for activities to support a person with dementia’s wellbeing?
  • What do you think of the name – any other ideas for the name?
  • Any additional thoughts or comments?


edited on Apr 4, 2022 by Natasha Howard-Murray
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Penny Giles 2 months ago

This is all about professionals having conversations with people about non-medical ways of improving health, which is great in principle especially if delivered in conjunction with other healthy lifestyle advice. It might be hard to get professionals to have this conversation consistently but the message is still worth getting out there when possible. I think a barrier might be time...in my experience medical professionals are under time pressure to get the basic medical advice out so whatever it is it needs to be concise and easily accessed. Current information about this sort of thing is normally given on a flier which probably is rarely read.

The barrier it the digital exclusion for people living with dementia and their carers. We need advocates in the communities for people living with dementia.We need more dementia education for professionals and after that to introduce simple methods for a PWD being more active.

Patrick O'Halloran 2 months ago

I think this idea is consistent with other themes in healthcare at the moment and would lead to broader conversations, not just physical activity, but smoking, alcohol etc. There are existing resources to support this which would also help to make it easier to set up and implement at a local and national level.

Sadia Habib 2 months ago

Considerations for using this model with diverse communities: for people where English is not their first language, how will the messages be communicated via the mentioned prompts, bearing in mind digitally excluded groups?. Advocates in the community delivering the messages, face to face, would be an ideal approach following HCP interventions.