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Oomph! Wellness

It’s Never ‘Just’ a Garden Centre

By | Out and about

Garden Centres are a popular choice of destination for residents who are going on Oomph! trips, but these aren’t always perceived as the most exciting selection. Oomph!’s Lead Conductor in the North, John Daley, discusses why he feels that we should cut these locations a little bit more slack…

Since starting with Oomph!, I’ve heard on numerous occasions when I’ve asked, “Where are we going today?”, the reply, “Oh, just a Garden Centre”. On the outside I’m smiling, but on the inside I’m thinking “It’s not just a Garden Centre!”.

The Garden Centre is a location my wife personally inflicts on me once or twice a month, where I get dragged around various displays of clothing, candles and books from obscure authors writing on subjects I’ve got no interest in (no offence intended to train, tram, bus or tractor spotters), alongside some plants and spades.

If I behave myself (no huffing and puffing, pulling faces or generally looking bored) I’m treated to tea and a cake, and then we go home, suitably refreshed, carrying candles, a weird coloured fleece and a book about 1930’s Massey Fergusson tractors.

This has always been my experience of Garden Centres, however, since joining the Oomph! Out & About service, I’ve seen the true impact of going to these places. Places that I once thought of as torture, now become amazing venues filled with new and exciting objects that can be touched and smelled and that are visually colourful – a true Aladdin’s  cave of treasures. Some residents love to interact with young children, their parents and the staff of the Garden Centres, their faces light up with these encounters. The people who come on our trips leave the Garden Centres mentally stimulated, and this is sometimes the only time they are able to get out of their care home setting.

And then they are treated to tea and cake just like I am – although they huff and puff less beforehand! This is another part of the trip residents enjoy, socialising with each other and staff members in a different location… It truly is a humbling experience.

On the ride home, some of the residents fall asleep due to all the mental stimulation they’ve just encountered, others chat with the staff about their visit. It’s a picture of contentment either way.

So whenever I hear, “Just a garden centre”, there may well be a smile on my face… and that’s because I know that it definitely is not JUST a Garden Centre at all.


To find out more about getting your residents Out & About, email or call 0203 601 6363

Outstanding Oomphers! at Cherry Tree Court

By | Community

Following a recent exercise training session, Cherry Tree Court, a Together Housing scheme, has seen some great physical, mental and emotional benefits for residents. Our Regional Wellbeing Coordinator, Stefan, tells us more and speaks to the team at the scheme…

Earlier this year I delivered refresher training at Cherry Tree Court for Together Housing – it was a fantastic two days. On the training, a gentleman who lives at the scheme, called Mark, sat and watched. Staff explained that Mark chose not to participate in many activities.

Upon completion of the course, the team were awarded certificates and t-shirts, and throughout this Mark looked on and asked if he could have a t-shirt. I challenged Mark to take part in 8 Oomph! sessions to earn himself his own t-shirt!

At the end of August, the team emailed me to confirm that Mark has succeeded in taking part in 8 Oomph! sessions and was looking forward to receiving his t-shirt! Mark has a spine injury and since regularly taking part in Oomph!, he feels day to day tasks are beginning to feel easier.

Cherry Tree Court now have 2 Oomph! sessions taking place every week. The residents who attend have a mixture of different abilities and are really dedicated to attending. The sessions involve armchair movements, sporting games and line dancing. The instructors, Michael and Caroline enjoy delivering Oomph! sessions and are thrilled with everyone’s determination. I sat down with Caroline to see what she thought.

“What do your residents enjoy most about your Oomph! sessions?”

Caroline: “The music creates a great atmosphere and the group are very friendly and welcoming to each other. I think the residents enjoy the hummer (banter) they have with us and each other, as well as getting active.”

“How have your residents improved since you began the exercise sessions?”

Caroline: “Some of the people who attend Oomph! have started to do their own activities outside of the sessions and have recently completed a walk for Alzheimer’s Society. Residents are surprised by how active they can be! One of the ladies who attends Oomph! has arthritis and says the day after Oomph! her pain is reduced and if she misses a session, the pain is worse.”

Socially, it’s great to see people who come to Oomph! socialising with people who don’t often come down to the living area. Oomph! helps people to branch into other social activities taking place in Cherry Tree. Socialising at Oomph! has inspired people to sign up to a befriending scheme.”


To find out more about Oomph!, get in touch at, or to find out more about Together Housing please click here 

Helping to bring music to everyone in the UK with dementia by 2020

By | Care Home

Oomph! are working collaboratively with BBC Music Day to help bring music to everyone in the UK with dementia by 2020, using BBC Music Day as a platform.

The fifth BBC Music Day takes place on Thursday 26th September with events and broadcasts across the week. The theme this year is music and wellbeing; the power of music to inspire, to bring us together and make a positive impact. For its music and dementia initiative, BBC Music Day 2019 is collaborating with over 50 UK organisations involved with dementia care, reaching out through their networks and beyond to help bring music to everyone living with dementia in the UK.

To celebrate, we’ve organised events with care homes that we work with across the country to involve as many older adults in music on the day as possible.

We are holding a special music workshop for staff at Somerset House near York, part of the Country Court Care group, to upskill the team in the home and bring music therapy to a range of different resident abilities. The Oomph! Music workshop has been developed by experienced music therapist, Stuart Wood MBE PhD, in partnership with Oomph!, and who will be in attendance on the day.

A practical session will take place after the workshop so that residents can enjoy playing fun and engaging musical games, and will have the opportunity to join in with a choir group created as a result of the workshop.

Meanwhile, Karuna Manor, TLC, will be holding a cultural Oomph! exercise session to international music, bringing a person-centered twist to music therapy in the home. Other events include a karaoke afternoon at Cross Way House, Brookvale Healthcare, who are inviting a local Learning Disabilities group in to join the celebrations, and an intergenerational choir event at Fairmile Grange, Encore Care Homes, who are welcoming children from a local school to come and sing with residents.

To get involved in BBC Music Day, visit


Background: BBC Music Day celebrates the power of music to change lives with events across the UK and broadcasts on TV, Radio and digital. Last year BBC Music Day programmes reached over 13 million viewers on TV, 14 million on radio and trended on Twitter throughout the day. The initiative united 100 external partners who delivered over a thousand live music events, which featured in over 100 different BBC programmes with Ambassadors including Kylie, Nile Rodgers and Blossoms.

Resident Wish To Revisit Beloved Wetland Centre Comes True

By | Out and about

A special Oomph! trip enabled Lostock Lodge Care Home to make a wish come true for one of their residents as part of the Country Court Care ‘Make a Wish’ initiative.

Dedicated staff at a local care home at Lostock Lodge Care Home, Country Court Care, have worked hard to overcome the odds and help a resident achieve her dream trip. Country Court Care partner with us to deliver exercise classes and creative activities for residents, as well as engaging trips out. As part of the ‘Make a Wish’ initiative, residents were given the opportunity to tell staff about somewhere they’d always wanted to go or a special activity they’d always wanted to do. Lostock Lodge Care Home Resident Sheila was a long-standing volunteer at Martin Mere Wetland Centre near Ormskirk and told staff she would love to go back and visit the nature reserve, but due to her condition didn’t feel she could make the trip.

“We really wanted to find a way of working through the challenges to get Sheila there” said Sarah Holt, Activity Coordinator at Lostock Lodge, to which Sheila replied ”I am so glad you did!” Staff from both teams worked together to arrange the trip and ensure they could accommodate Sheila’s health requirements.

Bill Ramsbottom, Oomph! Minibus Conductor, played a key role in making the trip happen and was the person who first found out about Sheila’s wish. “We had several steps to overcome and for a long time were worried we couldn’t make it happen, but we have eventually overcame the challenges by removing a seat from our minibus and by taking a piece of equipment with us to achieve what appeared to have been impossible.”

Sheila was made redundant from her remedial teaching post in 1976 and decided to turn to private teaching of pupils that need extra help. Whilst preparing for this Sheila started work as a volunteer at the nature reserve, continuing to enjoy and learn more about the wildlife she loves. She worked in the education department at Martin Mere showing the many school parties around the site. During the trip Sheila was able to impart some of her knowledge on her fellow residents and they all enjoyed chatting with current volunteers, seeing the gardens and wildlife and admiring the fabulous flamingos.

“It is so nice for us to meet someone with experience from so long ago. It is wonderful to see the residents getting out and about!” current volunteers at Martin Mere, Enid and Di commented.

“For me this trip was a culmination of plans stretching back to February when Sheila told me she had been a volunteer at Martin Mere.” said Bill Ramsbottom “Not only was I delighted to have finally achieve it and see the pleasure she and Brian (her husband) obtained from it, but I was also amazed by the knowledge and genuine pleasure expressed by all of the other residents.”

The ‘Make a wish’ initiative has seen residents from across the Country Court Care group enjoy special outings and activities; from scoring goals at Sheffield United Football Club, to off-road driving and lots of family tea parties.

Westgate Healthcare gets some Oomph! with new partnership!

By | Care Home, Out and about

We are partnering with Westgate Healthcare, to engage residents in awesome exercise classes and creative activities, as well as regular trips out.

Taking a whole-home approach to activities, staff in Westgate Healthcare homes have been trained in our Wellbeing Leadership programme. This pilot ensures that they are equipped with everything they need to create and sustain a person-centred plan of varied exercise and activities that residents love. The training is tailored to each home, and focuses on meeting and exceeding regulator requirements.

One member of staff commented, “‘I really enjoyed the training, it was fun, interactive and educational. Thank you!’

Another said of the impact after training, “Staff who never joined in before are starting to get involved, everyone loves it.”

The programme also includes a series of skills workshops, including Oomph! Nature, which has been developed in collaboration with Kew Gardens. The workshop focuses on teaching staff how to encourage residents to get outdoors and appreciate nature, as well as bringing the outdoors in by supporting residents to get green-fingered. Further workshops will focus on culture, sensory engagement and dance.

Additionally, engaging days out to a range of destinations are running for homes, with added value and variety to trip experiences created through partnerships with the National Trust and HQ Theatres.

The trips aim to connect residents to the people and places that matter most to them, and Westgate trips have already been going to interesting locations, such as Whipsnade Zoo.

A member of staff said of a recent trip to the zoo, “This was the highlight of our residents’ year! What an amazing experience, our driver was so friendly and very much a part of our team!”

Tara Teubner, Director at Westgate Healthcare, said: “The partnership with Oomph! allows our residents to continue to experience everything they enjoy outside of the care facilities. We’ll be working with the team at Oomph! to establish regular day trips and activities, whilst ensuring every resident receives first-class care and support.

“We are looking forward to experiencing the new and exciting adventures that are instore for us at Westgate Healthcare, whilst making new memories with all our residents.”

Ben Allen, Oomph’s CEO and Founder, said: “Oomph! are delighted to be driving innovation and participation across Westgate homes through our partnership. We are excited to be adding additional fun and engagement to resident wellbeing!”

Avante Care & Support partners up with Oomph! enterprise!

By | Care Home, Out and about

We are partnering with Avante Care & Support, a leading UK Care provider, to engage residents in awesome exercise classes and creative activities, as well as regular trips out.

Taking a whole-home approach to activities, staff in 3 Avante care homes have been trained in our Wellbeing Leadership programme. This pilot ensures that they are equipped with everything they need to create and sustain a person-centred plan of varied exercise and activities that residents love. The training is tailored to each home and residents that take part, and focuses on meeting and exceeding regulatory requirements.

One member of staff commented, “I found the training so interesting and enjoyed every part. It was great learning about all the different movements to help engage residents”

The programme also includes a series of skills workshops, including Oomph! Nature, which has been developed in collaboration with Kew Gardens. The workshop focuses on teaching staff how to encourage residents to get outdoors and appreciate nature, as well as bringing the outdoors in by supporting residents to get green-fingered. Further workshops will focus on culture, sensory engagement and dance.

Additionally, engaging days out to a range of destinations are running for 2 Avante care homes, with added value and variety to trip experiences created through partnerships with the National Trust and HQ Theatres.

The trips aim to connect residents to the people and places that matter most to them – Avante trips provided by Oomph! have previously included interesting locations, such as vintage tea rooms, Hall Place & Gardens, and a naval dockyard museum.

A member of staff said of a recent trip, “Today we went to a historical royal naval dockyard museum. It houses a large collection of steam trains, one resident said he had a marvellous time visiting the museum.”

Jacqui Morris, Director of Quality at Avante Care & Support, said: “We are delighted to be working in collaboration with Oomph! who are introducing new activities and opportunities for residents whilst enhancing and supporting current activities across our care homes. We have already seen a positive increase in engagement and interaction amongst the residents involved and look forward to seeing more positive impacts for the residents across the care homes.”

Ben Allen, Oomph’s CEO and Founder, said: “Oomph! are excited to be partnering with Avante to drive innovation and participation across the homes and are delighted to be adding additional fun and engagement to resident wellbeing!”

How to create a dementia-friendly garden

By | Care Home

As we welcome the warmer weather, kicking off our Oomph! Nature workshop and some fantastic summer trips, we get expert advice from Nicky Roeber, Online Horticultural Expert at Wyevale Garden Centres – one of our popular trip destinations – on designing a garden for those living with dementia.

Gardening can be great for the mind and body. Just being outdoors brings great benefits on our health. And, for those living with dementia, gardening can be hugely beneficial for keeping the brain active. It can help create a routine, stimulate the mind and the senses, and provide a great feeling of purpose. But planning a garden for those living with the condition can be slightly different to designing your usual plot at home, and there are some extra considerations you’ll need to make. Below, you’ll find my expert advice on how you can create a garden that those living with dementia can enjoy.

Make it safe and accessible

Make sure that the garden is kept secure, with high fences and locked gates to ensure that it is a safe space. You can grow climbing plants like wisteria, honeysuckle or English ivy along these surfaces to make the space bright, beautiful and less intimidating.

Pathways and surfaces should be non-slip to reduce the risk of injury from falling. You should also keep these surfaces all one colour where possible, as contrasting flooring can look like steps to those living with dementia, which can be another safety hazard.

Try to keep pathways wide enough for wheelchairs and for at least two people to walk side-by-side. You should plan to avoid steps where you can. As a more accessible alternative, you can use ramps with a gentle incline. You could also place signs along paths and pavements to make the garden easier to navigate.

For older people, especially those living with dementia, certain activities and movements can be more difficult, which means bending down to plant seeds and to weed may not be as easy. Raising flowerbeds and vegetable patches from the ground means they can still do their usual garden activities from standing height.

When choosing plants, make sure to avoid those that could be harmful if eaten. It’s also best to stay away from any prickly or pointy species that could hurt someone if they were to hold them.

Attract local wildlife

Having animals like birds nearby can improve mood and have a calming effect on those living with dementia (Care UK). Try to design your garden to attract more local wildlife like bees, butterflies, birds and even hedgehogs.

You can easily add some bird baths and bird feeders to the garden to attract more feathered friends, but you can bring a whole range of wildlife to the space by picking the right plants. Trees are great nesting places for birds, and fruit trees have an added benefit of providing sweet produce, too.

Pick low lying plants, shrubs and hedgerows to give hedgehogs a cosy nesting place. Then, pick flowers that are rich in pollen, like lavender and sunflowers, to attract bees and butterflies.

Create a sensory experience

For those living with dementia, sensory experiences can help keep the brain active, so try growing plants that can stimulate their sense of touch, sound, smell, taste and sight. These include:

  • Touch: I’ve previously mentioned that you should try to avoid thorny plants, but there are so many other species that can add a more tactile element to the space. The soft leaves of lamb’s ear feel silky when rubbed, which can have a great calming effect.
  • Sound: Attracting wildlife can add some great sounds to the garden, like soothing birdsong and gentle buzzing. But, bamboo and tall grasses, like greater quaking grass, can provide some interesting sounds when moved by a light breeze.
  • Smell: I’ve already mentioned that lavender can be great for attracting bees and butterflies, but its delicate scent can really help to relax the mind.
  • Taste: Herbs like rosemary, thyme and mint might all carry some lovely scents in the breeze, and are completely edible, too! And don’t forget about fruit bushes and trees, which can grow some tasty produce for everyone to enjoy. Just make sure you choose varieties that are safe to eat, as those living with dementia may not be able to differentiate between edible berries and those that could be dangerous. It’s also best to stay away from fruits that can cause a choking hazard, such as cherries.
  • Sight: Growing a mixture of plants can really help to stimulate the senses, so try to pick contrasting coloured petals and plants with bright leaves.

By following these few tips, you can easily create a safe and stimulating garden for everyone to enjoy.

Exciting research project to investigate Oomph! effect

By | Community

Introducing… Shiva Shangari Manoharan

We are excited to be match funding a PhD studentship with Bournemouth University. This will investigate the physical and psychological effects of Oomph! in older adults. More details are coming soon, but in the meantime, let us tell you a bit more about Shiva, the student who has been chosen to carry out the research…

A registered nurse striving to enhance healthcare one step at a time. She was born in Singapore and later graduated from The University of Sydney with a Bachelor of Nursing. After graduating, she pursued her nursing career in Singapore and UK. In line with her great passion for the profession, she has great interest in research and believes that research drives change in our environment. To further her knowledge in research, she studied in King’s College London where she graduated with a Master of Science in Implementation and Improvement Science.

She is currently embarking on an exciting PhD studentship that is match funded by Bournemouth University and Oomph!. This PhD aims to investigate the physical and psychological effects of the Oomph! intervention in older adults living in care homes in the UK. This is a crucial project as studies show that a large number of older adults living in care homes lead a sedentary lifestyle. The Oomph! intervention focuses on not only keeping the care home residents physically active but also gives equal importance to their psychosocial health. The ultimate goal of the Oomph! intervention would be that care home residents have a good quality of life. This programme of work represents a new collaboration between Bournemouth University (Professor Jane Murphy), Solent University and ukactive (Dr James Steele), Royal Bournemouth Hospital (Dr Divya Tiwari), and Oomph! (Ms. Parita Doshi).

“As a registered nurse with Masters in Implementation and Improvement Science, I am eager to develop my research knowledge and skills at a Doctoral level. The exciting aspect of this would be meeting and working with older people in the community.”

How to drive inclusion in care home activities

By | Care Home

Last week brought us 2019’s Dementia Action Week, giving us time to reflect on this year’s theme of inclusion. Craig Taylor-Green, a Regional Wellbeing Coordinator at Oomph!, gives his thoughts on how care homes can ensure that all residents are involved in wellbeing activities.

As I write this, I know that there may be care home staff up and down the country scratching their heads as they attempt to inspire residents to take part in an activity. What does it take to ensure all residents have the opportunity to not just take part in an activity, but to take part and reap the benefits of health and wellbeing related outcomes which can have a positive impact on their mind, body and soul?

My focus is on the ‘adaptation of activities’ and steps we can take to increase the likelihood of positive engagement between resident, activity and carer. Our goal is to have a failure free environment! It’s a tricky balance ensuring activities are achievable – in order to avoid frustration and disappointment – but also challenging enough to avoid patronising or boring residents.

For us to stand a chance of success at ‘including’ all our residents, we need to have in place…

Life Stories & Wellbeing Plans

We need to know the person – it is absolutely crucial that as soon as someone moves into a care home, we start developing their life story. This in turn will allow us to create individual, meaningful wellbeing plans, full of activity ideas which can then be facilitated & adapted. We stand a much better chance of succeeding by including someone with an activity they love, or previously had a passion for, and our understanding of a person’s journey with dementia enables us to be more responsive to their needs. Gathering life story information can be a daunting task but it is pivotal.


Ask yourself: ‘What motivates me?’. It might be one thing today and another tomorrow! It’s exactly the same for a person living with dementia – their needs and what motivates them will most likely change through their journey – so we must understand what might be relevant and meaningful for that individual at that time. What works one day, might not work the next. Hence the CQC KLOE ‘responsive’.

At the same time, it is important to present people with the opportunity to try new things. If a person declines to take part, then that’s fine, but please do not give up! One day, you might be surprised as when they engage with the unlikeliest of activities. Additionally, the idea of leaving the room to go to a group activity might be a scary thought for some residents. This should not be a barrier! With good planning, we can still ensure someone can live the fullest life they can live within their environment, whilst taking steps to try to build up their confidence to socialise outside of their rooms.

Adaptation of activities for someone living with dementia

So how do we break activity and exercise down for people living with dementia? Whilst it may be difficult to determine exactly what stage someone may be in their journey with dementia the following principles may apply:

Early stages

In the early stages, it should be possible to facilitate a meaningful, structured, goal orientated activity that focuses on the whole task. We may find that it is possible to focus on all of the elements, from start to finish and that the person’s interest may be maintained throughout the whole task (especially if it is something they are passionate about). A person may also have the capacity to follow instructions, and may benefit from linking with outside organisations to integrate into the community for these activities.

IDEAS: Structured activities may be boardgames such as scrabble, sports games such as bowling, structured arts and crafts, mastermind quizzes, group discussions and aqua aerobics

Middle Stages

As a person progresses through their journey with dementia, with potential consequences on their thought processes and language, this may impact their ability to follow the ‘structure’ of an activity. Their familiarity with the routine or objects used may still be in tact, with makes it beneficial to focus on the ‘steps’ and not the activity as a whole. Shorter activities may be appropriate, or 1:1 sessions that promote a safe environment where the person feels confident to express themselves. It may help to repeat instructions. The important thing is that the person still has the opportunity to accomplish something – and constant enthusiasm, excitement and acknowledgement of doing a good job by the carers should stimulate and motivate.

IDEAS: Movement to music, dance, reminiscence and expressive arts could help a resident to express themselves

Later Stages

Fact and logic continue to deteriorate rapidly during later stages and – while emotions and feelings may sometimes be jumbled up, they do remain intact, making it incredibly important to ensure all engagement with residents is driven by positivity. A person may now enjoy sensory stimulating activities and those which follow repetitive actions, using visuals to stimulate engagement. For example, the sensory aspects of a baking task could be: kneading the dough (but not with a cake baking goal in mind), tasting or smelling the ingredients where safe to do so, tasting or smelling the cake when baked.

I often found in my experience as an Activity Coordinator, that the incredible rewards from breaking through with someone in their later stages of dementia were second to none. Do not underestimate the benefits of including that person!

IDEAS: Movement to music, carpet balloon games, pairing and organising clutter drawers, quiz games such as finish the sentence, sensory stimulation such as scent bottles, folding laundry and gentle massage (if qualified and safe to do so).

Final thought

Not all superheroes wear capes! If you are currently working in a care home, know that you are part of a great team of people putting the lives of others at the forefront! You have the power to make an impact on a person’s life that in turn will impact another and another and another and – whilst thinking outside the box is greatly encouraged – sometimes it’s the simple steps that can make a difference.


Photo from Park View Care Home

Making wishes come true at blackpool tower ballroom

By | Out and about

A special Oomph! trip enabled Lostock Lodge Care Home to make a wish come true for one of their residents as part of the Country Court Care ‘Make a Wish’ initiative.

Residents at the care home in Lostock Gralam have been discussing what they would wish for, Bill said how much he enjoyed weekends in Blackpool with his wife and he decided he would love to go back to Blackpool Tower Ballroom. The team at Lostock Lodge Care Home thought that this would make a great day out, so he and three other lucky residents were sent a personal invitation.

Bill and wife Anne were regular visitors to the world-famous ballroom dancing venue and enjoyed both the dancing and the organ music synonymous with the ballroom. Bill’s daughter Alison explains…

“He loves to dance so much, he and my mum went there regularly for weekends and danced in the Tower Ballroom. I do know he was particularly looking forward to the organ music which he loves, he used to be a keen keyboard player himself.”

The Lostock Lodge residents were treated to a delicious afternoon tea and enjoyed watching the dancers on the dancefloor. Much to Bill’s delight there was an organist playing live and Bill took to the floor for a short spin around the dancefloor too.

“Our ‘Make a Wish’ initiative has enabled us to make out trips and outings much more meaningful and personal to each individual, Bill had a fantastic day” said Katy Viner, Customer Relations Manager at Lostock Lodge Care Home.

Oomph! are working in partnership with Country Court Care to take residents out on regular minibus trips to a wide range of local destinations, including Blue Planet Aquarium, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and the Sloane Square Christmas lights.

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