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Care Home

Oomph! Create Series: See What You Say

By | Care Home

The first topic in our Create mini-series is: See What You Say.

Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “Every artist was first an amateur”.

Creative activities provide opportunities for everyone, regardless of their ability. They enable people to engage with each other and their own creativity, directly improving their sense of wellbeing. Taking part in creative activities can reduce stress and increase social engagement, providing a fantastic opportunity for self-expression.

These activities don’t need to be complex or require lots of materials! Jack McKechnie, our expert Lead Wellbeing Coordinator, has a simple creative activity to stimulate the mind, that only requires pencils, paper and an object…

The benefits of the activity

It’s always important to know why we are doing an activity and what the benefits of an activity are. This activity will support thought process, reduce anxiety, promote calm and relaxation, improve dexterity and support control of movement. This activity, and creative activities in general, are great for promoting individuality, promoting  happiness and creating meaningful connections.

Let’s be creative

You will need an object, pencils and paper for this activity. During the activity you will draw what you hear.

The speaker will pick an object and sit out of view from the rest of the group. They must describe the object in as much detail as possible without saying what it is.

For example, if you were describing a jug, you may say: “This object is made from clay and is about 20cm tall. It has a larger bottom to it & becomes narrower about two thirds of the way up.”

The other members of the group draw their interpretation of what they are hearing. Afterwards, get the group to share what they have drawn and compare their creative pieces!

During unprecedented times, Oomph! are keen to support with stimulating and varied content for older adults. As part of this, we are releasing resources based on our Oomph! skills workshops. These resources, and more, will be uploaded to our Wellbeing Resources Hub.

 

You can download the PDF of this resource here.

 

To find out more about our new virtual resources and support programme, email us here.

Top Tips For Older Adults Starting To Exercise

By | Care Home

The popularity of home workouts has increased exponentially with the Covid-19 pandemic – keeping fit and healthy is vital for mental and physical wellbeing, especially at a time when we’re still facing restrictions. But, if you’ve never tried exercising before, or its been a while since you last did physical activity, it can be a daunting prospect.

Our exercise expert, Steve Gardner, shares his top tips for anyone starting to exercise, either for the first time or after a period of inactivity…

Purpose

Is this something that you want to commit to, and not just a one-off? If your answer is yes, then it’s important to understand WHY you want to start exercising. Without understanding what you can achieve and how it will benefit you, inevitably your commitment could wane pretty quickly.

Start by taking a look at how exercise can support and benefit you specifically. This will be different for every person, so what would be most impactful for you? Perhaps increased mobility levels, increased range of movement, pain relief or easier breathing? Or how about reduced isolation, increased independence or a sense of achievement and structure?

People often focus on the physical benefits of getting moving, where in fact there are intellectual, emotional and social benefits that will have a tremendous impact on your life. Think of exercise as a holistic approach to your all-round wellbeing – understanding why YOU are doing it will support the ability to influence continuity months down the line.

Exciting Exercise

When embarking on your journey of exercise, it’s worth thinking of your options. The best results come primarily from doing things you enjoy – if you’re having fun, it won’t feel as much like hard work and you’ll want to keep doing it! After all, doing something that’s physically active provides benefits mentally, physically and emotionally, but is completely underpinned by enjoyment! This dramatically increases the chances of success and achievement.

Slow and steady wins the race

Once you have decided what you are doing and understand why you are doing it, you need to consider what level of intensity will work best for you. Exercise intensity refers to how hard your body is working during physical activity. Your health and fitness goals, as well as your current level of fitness, will determine your ideal exercise intensity. Typically, exercise intensity is described as low, moderate or vigorous.

If you have had a period of inactivity, then it is advised to start off with low intensity for a short period of time, and then build this up over the months. During this time, you will need to balance intensity and length of session. Set yourself some achievable targets that do not cause pain or discomfort, and aim for slow and steady increases in intensity over a period of months.

Compound movements

Compound exercises are exercises that work multiple muscle groups at the same time. For example, a chest press (this is where you have both arms by your chest and push forward) is a compound exercise that works both the chest and arms. Using multiple muscles and joints will not isolate specific parts of the body, which could then cause injury. The amount of times you then complete each movement, combined with the speed of the action, starts to build a structure to your exercise session. But note – going more quickly does not always make it harder! Slowing the movement down to a very controlled pace can intensify the movement and mean that you work harder.

Session Structure

No matter what the physical activity may be, from an exercise session to gardening, if you are starting to become physically active after a period of being sedentary, include a warm up and a cool down! The thought process of “I could do this before and I will be fine now” could lead to injury and put you off continuing with the task at hand.

The reason behind a warm up is to prepare the body and mind for physical activity. A really good way to do this is to think through the movements needed to the activity. Let’s take gardening as an example – a digging motion may be needed, so you can simply start to replicate the same movements and slowly build up the intensity. You are now actively engaging the muscle groups needed for the task at hand – you have started a functional warm up!

Towards the end of your physical activity session, it’s a really good idea to gently reduce the intensity. Think about the muscles and joints you have been using and mobilise these areas to their full range of movement. For example, if you have been using your upper body, reach in front as far as you can, reach to the sky and then give yourself a cuddle. All these movements should be controlled. This is to try and prevent muscular soreness and stiffness the day after; this can restrict movements.

And remember, only do what you are comfortable with!

 

For more information about what we do, please email us here.

Care home residents focusing on the positives with new way to stay connected with loved ones…

By | Care Home

Residents of care homes across the UK have been using a template that aims to connect them with their loved ones. As visitors are currently unable to go into care homes, the template means they can catch up without the need for physical contact.

“Missing you lots! Can’t wait until the virus lockdown is over and I can take you out”

Focusing on the positives, the template has space for drawing pictures, sticking photos and writing messages, as well as noting down the things that have made them smile that week. The document is then sent to friends and relatives, who fill in the other side with their own drawings and messages. These are returned to the home for the residents to enjoy.

Encouraging regular communication

One home, Brookvale House in Southampton, part of Brookvale Healthcare, has found the template to be hugely successful at connecting residents with loved ones in a meaningful way, receiving plenty of replies.

A resident at the home and her daughter have been using the templates regularly to exchange messages and clippings as a form of reminiscence. One of the communications included a photo of blue flowers, with the message “A lovely picture for you – blue forget me nots. Remember your song, Two Little Girls in Blue, when your father used to sing it to you. It was a famous song in 1921!”

The resident replied, “I remember the song Two Little Girls in Blue – I remember my dad singing this song together!”

Tunbridge Wells Care Centre, part of Canford Healthcare, have also had replies from loved ones. One child replied to a resident, “Thank you for the letter, I really enjoyed reading it. My positives include splashing in the paddling pool, writing poems and writing this!”

Keeping up spirits

The template has also proven that it’s the simple things bringing us joy during lockdown – some of the positives noted by residents of Brookvale Care Home and their loved ones include “cups of tea”, “seeing my son”,  “singing” and “sunshine”. One resident said her positives were “When my daughter sends me flowers and when my daughter calls me on the phone – it makes me smile!”

For information on how we can help to keep residents engaged during the Covid-19 pandemic, please contact us at hello@oomph-wellness.org

 

Photo taken at Karuna Manor

Oomph! Relax Series: Leading A Relaxation Session

By | Care Home

The fourth topic in our Relax mini-series is: Leading Relaxation Sessions.

Relaxation sessions can be a fantastic activity for older adults in a variety of settings. Whether its leading a session in your care home, in your retirement living scheme, or even leading a session with an older friend or relative, relaxation sessions can be a great way of finding calm. So, Jack McKechnie, our expert Lead Wellbeing Coordinator, gives direction for how to make these sessions as impactful as possible…

Voice

When delivering a session, it’s important to have a clear and relaxed voice. This will not only help to create a relaxed atmosphere, but will support the delivery of guidance and instructions. How we say things and the way in which we deliver them actually has a bigger impact than what we are saying. So, using your voice in the right way can impact the environment and the people around you. During relaxation sessions you will use your voice to give permission, enhance the relaxed atmosphere and support people to feel comfortable.

Language

Tone: Describes the ‘pitch’ of voice. Pitch refers to the vibrations you create when you speak – whether these are high or low. People can speak from their ‘throat’ or from their ‘stomach’. This changes the pitch from being high and forced to low and natural.

Speed: The speed of speech varies for everyone, but in a relaxation session the speed of speaking should be slowed down to create a relaxing and calm ‘paced’ atmosphere.

Words: Support the atmosphere. Positive words promote feelings of happiness and calm. Clear instructions are vital!

Have a go…

During a relaxation session, the phrases we use can help to praise people and put them at ease. Below are some phrases commonly used in relaxation sessions, why not have a go and use some of them in your next session?

“Move to where you feel comfortable”

“Ease into the movement, working to where feels natural for you”

“We only lose what you cling to; acceptance is essential”

“The mind is just like a muscle: the more you exercise it, the stronger it gets and the more it can grow”

“Focus on what feels right for you”

“When we get too caught up in the business of the world, we lose connection with one another, and ourselves”

“Life isn’t about waiting for the storm to pass, it’s about learning to dance in the rain”

During unprecedented times, Oomph! are keen to support with stimulating and varied content for older adults. As part of this, we are releasing resources based on our Oomph! skills workshops. These resources, and more, will be uploaded to our Wellbeing Resources Hub.

 

You can download the PDF of this resource here.

 

To find out more about our new virtual resources and support programme, email us here.

Kicking off the Care Home Oomph-lympics

By | Care Home

Would you expect to see synchronised swimming in a care home? How about golf? The Olympic Games might be postponed until 2021, but that won’t stop residents across the UK from limbering up to compete in Olympics and Paralympics inspired events this summer…

Bringing something different and exciting to residents is particularly important for care homes right now. That’s why a brand new – and entirely virtual – skills workshop has been created to teach care home staff how to engage older adults in popular sports through exercise moves, themed activities and gameplay. The workshop has been created with help from expert partners – such as the School of Sport and Health Sciences at the University of Exeter, as well as Boccia England – and covers a range of Olympic and Paralympic sports and how these can be adapted for any ability.

This first of its kind, the workshop has been kicked off with TLC Care, with 8 care homes coming together via video call to learn all about the sports and how they can use and adapt them to engage residents.

“This was exactly what our team needed. The theme is great, the content is so refreshing for me, the facilitator is amazing and the tools were the best in this pandemic time!” commented a Team Member at Carlton Court, TLC.

Following the workshop, the homes were tasked with running their very own Oomph-lympics with their residents. The homes are now busy hosting opening ceremonies to kick everything off, and are planning special events for the different sports, including Boccia themed weeks and beach parties for their synchronised swimming events.

One attendee from Cooperscroft Care Home said, “The practical side of the training was excellent for me as I am a physical learner. It was fun and it was great to see others joining in and sharing their ideas!”

Vicky Bahmed, Wellbeing Support Manager for TLC Care said, “The workshops are always fun, inclusive and allow us to share ideas and give support”.

Ben Allen, CEO at Oomph!, commented, “We are delighted that we have been able to adapt our training to deliver new, exciting content virtually – especially when care home teams need it most. It is a pleasure to be kicking off the Oomph-lympics with TLC, and we can’t wait to see what the homes have in store for residents… Let the games begin!”

 

For information on how we can help to keep residents engaged during the Covid-19 pandemic, please contact us here.

Oomph! Relax Series: Mindfulness

By | Care Home

The third topic in our Relax mini-series is: Mindfulness.

In Eastern Philosophy a strong ‘chi’ makes you alive, alert, and present in your mind, body and soul. A weak chi results in sluggishness and fatigue, therefore preventing you from reaching full wellbeing. ‘Chi’ (pronounced ‘chee’) means energy or life force. Jack McKechnie, one of our expert Lead Wellbeing Coordinators, tells us more about how to practice mindfulness…

Developing your chi

The practice of mindfulness is about harnessing and developing the energy and life force inside us. Developing your chi is thought to overcome illness, help you become more vibrant and enhance your mental capacity.

This principle requires you to block out all the background noise and encourages you to have clarity of thought and focus. Mindfulness is a state of being aware of the present moment, being conscious and paying attention.

The Philosophy

The philosophy of mindfulness is not just awareness, but being consciously aware. You must focus all your senses on one thing and notice it.

For example, have you ever been aware of your window? Have you noticed all the lines in the wood; have you noticed the shimmer in the glass from the sunlight? Have you been aware of how your feet feel against your shoe or your sock, or how the back of your thighs feel against the chair?

You have now because you have moved your attention and focus.

Have a go! Body scanning…

This activity requires mental and physical focus. Why not play some gentle, soothing music to aid the session?

You will begin your body scan at your toes and move all the way up to your head. The activity requires a combination of breathing and focused ‘sensing’, ‘tensing’ and ‘relaxing.’ This will be implemented over a four count inhale and four count exhale.

You will begin by sensing your toes for two breaths. How do they feel? Next, on the third breath squeeze and tense your toes. On the fourth and final breath relax the toes.

Continue this exercise all the way up the body.

During unprecedented times, Oomph! are keen to support with stimulating and varied content for older adults. As part of this, we are releasing resources based on our Oomph! skills workshops. These resources, and more, will be uploaded to our Wellbeing Resources Hub.

 

You can download the PDF of this resource here.

 

To find out more about our new virtual resources and support programme, email us here.

Oomph! Relax Series: Breathing

By | Care Home

The second topic in our Relax mini-series is: Breathing.

Within Eastern Philosophy and practice, the breath is viewed as our life force – if we didn’t breathe, we wouldn’t be here. So, if we learn to breathe with more control and efficiency, we will function better! Using a variety of breathing activities offers flexibility and variety to practice, and can improve your breathing. Jack McKechnie, one of our Lead Wellbeing Coordinators, walks us through it…

 

The Foundation of Everything

There are plenty of benefits from learning and practicing breathing exercises. These exercises train the muscles and organs involved, giving more control and better equipping them to support everyday activity. Of course, everyone breathes, but not everyone thinks about their breathing… The purpose of breathing activities is to provide a structure to breathing so that you can tap into the benefits!

The Benefits

Breathing exercises support daily living by reducing anxiety and stress, which can really elevate your mood. If exercises are performed regularly, you can strengthen the lungs, reduce blood pressure and release muscle tension, relieving pain and improving posture. Breathing exercises can also support COPD. Overall, this will help improve energy levels, whilst supporting shared activities.

Have a go! Balance breathing…

If participants can, it is beneficial to ask them to move to the front third of their chair and sit in an upright position. Ensure as much as possible that their back is away from the back of their chair to prevent the diaphragm from being compressed.

This breathing activity is done all through the nose. Ask participants to inhale for a count to 2. Then ask them to exhale to a count to 2. When you have got the basics and participants are comfortable, extend the counts to 3, 4 & 5. Always keep the count equal for the in and out breath.

During unprecedented times, Oomph! are keen to support with stimulating and varied content for older adults. As part of this, we are releasing resources based on our Oomph! skills workshops. These resources, and more, will be uploaded to our Wellbeing Resources Hub.

 

You can download the PDF of this resource here.

 

To find out more about our new virtual resources and support programme, email us here.

Oomph! Relax Series: Morning Pages

By | Care Home

During unprecedented times, Oomph! are keen to support with stimulating and varied content for older adults. As part of this, we are releasing resources based on our Oomph! skills workshops. These resources, and more, will be uploaded to our Wellbeing Resources Hub.

The first topic in our Relax mini-series is: Morning Pages.

In the book, The Artists Way by Julia Cameron, it is stated that a tool called ‘Morning Pages’ is practised by many people. The activity uses writing as a medium to release inner chatter and to obtain more consciousness throughout the day. Jack McKechnie, one of our expert Lead Wellbeing Coordinators, tells us more about how to use morning pages…

 

Release your inner chatter

It is important that, before we embark on any relaxation activity, we release our “inner chatter”. Writing is a fantastic way to get things down on paper and to collate your thoughts. The activity of creating ”morning pages” is consciousness writing, and can be done in the morning, or before any relaxation exercise.

Morning pages helps us to clarify our thoughts, brings us comfort and helps us to prioritise the day at hand. Don’t over-think morning pages, it’s a process to clear your mind!

Now have a go!

Take a pen and some paper, and then begin jotting down anything that comes into your mind. There is no wrong way to do morning pages, just write down anything and everything that pops into your mind!

“I’ve got to make dinner later, what do I need from the shops?” This could be an example of a thought that you write down. No one else will see what you’re writing – it’s for your eyes only!

Park your thoughts

Once you have all your thoughts down on paper, your mind should be chatter free! Make sure you “park your thoughts” – for example, place them away from you or pop them in your pocket.

After you have finished your relaxation activity, you can go back to your thoughts.

Oomph! Culture Series: Bring Exhibitions to Life

By | Care Home

During unprecedented times, Oomph! are keen to support with stimulating and varied content for older adults. As part of this, we are releasing resources based on our Oomph! skills workshops. These resources, and more, will be uploaded to our Wellbeing Resources Hub.

The third topic in our Culture mini-series is: Bringing Exhibitions To Life

Nannette l. Avery said, “A museum was a place where nothing was lost, just rediscovered”. At the moment, visiting museums, galleries and places of culture isn’t an option, so Jack McKechnie, one of our expert Lead Wellbeing Coordinators, tells us more about how we can bring the exhibitions to us…

“When different people find common interest and are curious about an object or place, even when they do not have prior memories of it, this can become a catalyst for connection between them. Shared curiosity can spark free-flowing conversation, which can reassure a person with dementia that someone is interested in their lives.”

Quote taken from – Curiosity, place and wellbeing: encouraging place-specific curiosity as a “way to wellbeing’

Spark Curiosity

Why not create exhibitions in your home which celebrate residents’ lives? These can be stationary (for example, in rooms, on boards or displayed in reception), or can be mobile if you use a trolley. Using objects from their lives can celebrate resident achievements or interests. By designing exhibits for individuals, you will spark curiosity, bring people together and discover shared interests.

Experiment

You don’t need to just stick to objects from history or art galleries! Why not experiment in your home with these exhibit ideas?

Multi-sensory demonstrations or displays – allow the exhibition goers to experience the objects on display. For example, this could be an audio visual experience with video clips.

Exhibits from another time – discover the past, present and possibly the future! For example, what exciting technological developments are happening and how could you explore these?

Experimental exhibits – opportunities for museum goers to learn through interacting with and using the objects on show. Are there any unusual items that could be used?

Get Crafty

Turn the exhibition into an experience from beginning to end! Why not get creative and crafty in your home with these ideas…

Scale Models – play with sizes. Can you change the scale of something to give you a new perspective (microscopes or enlarged photocopies). How about creating model replicas together?

DIY Exhibition – opportunities for museum goers to add to existing exhibits and create new exhibits themselves. You could even consider asking the local community to send in their exhibits, in the form of drawings, photos and stories.

Mystery Items – that encourage people to explore the item and ask questions about what something is.

Oomph! Culture Series: One Word Stories

By | Care Home

During unprecedented times, Oomph! are keen to support with stimulating and varied content for older adults. As part of this, we are releasing resources based on our Oomph! skills workshops. These resources, and more, will be uploaded to our Wellbeing Resources Hub.

The third topic in our Culture mini-series is: One Word Storytelling

Rudyard Kipling said, “If history were taught in the form of stories, it would never be forgotten”. Jack McKechnie, one of our expert Regional Wellbeing Coordinators, suggests a fun and simple activity…

 

Creative flow

Get the creative juices flowing with a one-word storytelling game. In a 1:1 or as a group, you will tell a story together, taking it in turns to add one word at a time. This fun game will require you to work together and help with developing communication – plus you’re guaranteed to have a giggle!

Set the scene

Set the scene by leading with a full sentence, for example…

“Once upon a time there was a young man who wanted to change his luck…” or

“Once upon a time, there lived a woman with extraordinary powers…”

Then allow the next person to continue the story, one word at a time. If you are in a group, ensure everyone contributes. Keep telling the story until it has reached a conclusion. Make sure you jot down each word as the story unfolds so that you can read it back!

For a more independent version of this activity, how about using our storytelling prompt template here, or search online for some short story prompts to provide inspiration.

 

Showcase

Why not build a story book together and include all of the stories created? This will allow you to share the stories built over a period of time with friends and family.

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