Care Home

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

5 Top Tips for getting your care home creative

By | Care Home

With the launch of our Oomph! Create workshop, Heather, from The Lightbox Museum and Gallery, has some top tips for bringing art into your care setting:

Enjoy the process of making rather than the finished piece.

It’s great to have lots of beautiful work to put up, but also the enjoyment that is created through making should not be underestimated. Not everything has to look like a Turner painting! It can be the first time they have spent 20 minutes sitting and painting, or the colours that they love, that make the artwork so good.

Use what you see.

Sometimes we have an abundance of one item that can be used in many different ways. For example, a kitchen roll tube can be used to make a multitude of craft projects, such as owls or puppets, or they can even be used to print with to make a lovely circle pattern. If you have a garden, you could use leaves and twigs to create nature inspired collages.

It’s not always about making.

Some people like to know more about the artists, rather than make themselves. Print out biographies and share some of your residents’ knowledge. One of them may have been to an exhibition or show that you are talking about.

Try to use good quality materials as far as possible.

If you want to paint, try to provide the best you can afford. There is nothing worse than painting in watercolours and the paper being too thin so it wrinkles! Use card if you prefer so that it has a bit of weight to it. Acrylics are good paints to use too, they make a nice block colour (but note that any mess can be tricky to wash out of clothes).

Create a gallery wall.

Showcase what you have been doing in your care home! You don’t need big fancy frames, you could have a pin board which changes regularly. It gives residents pride in their work and also means that their friends and families can see what they’re up to.

To date, 127 homes have participated in the Oomph! Create workshop, with 208 staff members taking part across the UK. 98% would recommend the workshop, and 77% said it was even better than expected. Our next workshop in the series is based on nature, encouraging residents to get outdoors and appreciate nature, as well as bringing the outdoors in – Oomph! Nature will be launching in March, so watch this space!

Country Court Care gets some Oomph! for their residents!

By | Care Home

“Another great day! Buzzing atmosphere, happy residents, happy carers. Well enjoyed by all despite the cold weather!” One member of staff commented after a recent trip.

We have partnered with Country Court Care, a leading UK Care Group, to deliver awesome exercise classes and creative activities for residents, as well as engaging trips out.

A pilot project has been agreed where 4 homes have been embracing the exercise and activity training and 8 homes have been going out to local destinations.

Taking a whole-home approach to activities, staff in 4 Country Court Care Homes have been trained in our Wellbeing Leadership programme. This 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.

The programme also includes a series of skills workshops, including Oomph! Create, which has been developed in collaboration with The Lightbox Art Gallery & Museum in Woking. The workshop focuses on teaching staff the fundamentals of sketching, painting, sculpting and collage, and how they can practically apply these. Further workshops will focus on culture and nature.

One member of staff commented, “I thoroughly enjoyed every bit of Oomph! training and look forward to trying it with residents.”

Additionally, engaging days out to a range of destinations are running for 8 Country Court 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 – Country Court Care trips have previously included unexpected locations, such as the Blue Planet Aquarium, the Royal Pavilion in Brighton and the Sloane Square Christmas lights.

A member of staff said, “The driver is brilliant, he always gives that bit extra. It makes a huge difference having the transport all organised. The residents love getting out and enjoying fresh air.”

Alykhan Kachra, Managing Director at Country Court Care, said: “Both residents and staff have given very positive feedback on Oomph!’s exciting and fresh approach in our pilot care homes. We are delighted to see our partnership enabling activities and exercise that are meaningful and will enrich the lives of our residents”

Ben Allen, Oomph!’s CEO, said: “Oomph! are excited to be in partnership with Country Court Care – it is a privilege to be an integral part of the organisation’s wellbeing provision and we are excited to help ensure that residents at Country Court Care homes live a full life, for life.”

Kingsley Healthcare gets even more Oomph! with programme roll out!

By | Care Home

Following the success of the Wellbeing Programme in 13 Kingsley Healthcare homes, a further 12 homes are due to be trained to deliver awesome exercise classes and creative activities for their residents, with the previous homes continuing into their second year.

Taking a whole-home approach to activities, staff in 12 Kingsley Healthcare homes will be trained in Oomph!’s Wellbeing Leadership programme. This will ensure 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.

There has already been plenty of impact from the homes who have been trained – for example, Sharston House has set up a befriending scheme to pair up people with similar interests. One pair enjoy playing the piano together, with a glass of sherry during the visit, and another befriender who is a bee keeper recently dropped off homemade jam for a resident’s birthday.

At another home, one of the team heard about a resident whose husband was a bricklayer, so took her around the home’s new build project to have a look and meet the foreman.

One member of staff commented on the benefit that she had seen in the home, “Looking at the last report gave us some insight as to what was missing and what needed improvement. It is very helpful to have a team behind you with a wealth of knowledge and experience to aid improvement in our delivery and improve our skill set!”

Another said that, “Oomph! has a marvellous impact on our residents. It’s smiles all around, lovely to see and be a part of.”

The programme also includes a series of skills workshops, including Oomph! Create, which has been developed in collaboration with The Lightbox Art Gallery & Museum in Woking. The workshop focuses on teaching staff the fundamentals of sketching, painting, sculpting and collage, and how they can practically apply these. Further workshops will focus on culture and nature.

Kingsley Healthcare’s Operations Director, Debbie McGovern, said, “Oomph! training has been tremendously productive for both our staff and residents. We are committed to making life as interesting and enjoyable as possible for our residents and are delighted to be extending our partnership to the benefit of more of our homes.”

Ben Allen, Oomph’s CEO and Founder, said: “Oomph! could not be more excited to continue working with the team at Kingsley, to expand our impact throughout the whole portfolio of homes. It has been a privilege to add further fun and engagement to resident activities – and we’re looking forward to building upon this momentum in the upcoming months!”

Sanctuary Care gets some Oomph! with “life-changing” new partnership

By | Care Home

85-year-old resident Colleen Keen, who brands herself as an ‘Oomph! Girl’ said: “The classes are liberating. I used to struggle with circulation, especially in my ankles but now the classes have really improved this. They really are life-changing.”

We have partnered with Sanctuary Care, a leading UK Care Group, to deliver awesome exercise classes and creative activities for residents.

Taking a whole-home approach to activities, staff across a number of care homes run by Sanctuary Care, have been trained in our Wellbeing Leadership programme. This 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.

The programme also includes a series of skills workshops, including Oomph! Create, which has been developed in collaboration with The Lightbox Art Gallery & Museum in Woking. The workshop focuses on teaching staff the fundamentals of sketching, painting, sculpting and collage, and how they can practically apply these. Further workshops will focus on culture and nature.

Jennifer Simpson from Sanctuary Care’s Nunthorpe Oaks Residential Care Home in North Yorkshire said: “I cannot put into words how fantastic these care home activities are, not only are they lots of fun for residents and staff but more importantly we are supporting residents to be more sociable, independent, active and alert, as well as being healthier in the best possible way!”

Sheila O’Connor, Director of Operations – Sanctuary Care added: “We are delighted to be working in partnership with Oomph! and it’s exciting training programme. The support Oomph! has provided has helped to enrich the lives of our residents and further develop staff in our homes to ensure they continue to deliver the best quality of care to our residents.”

Ben Allen, Oomph!’s CEO, said: “Oomph! are excited to be in partnership with Sanctuary Care, to be an integral part of the organisation’s wellbeing provision and to help ensure that residents at Sanctuary Care homes live a full life, for life.”

Falls at Victoria Nursing reduced significantly… with regular Oomph! exercise sessions

By | Care Home

Falls have reduced significantly at Victoria Nursing Group’s Chartwell, within 6 months of beginning Oomph! exercise sessions in the home.

Between August 2017 and January 2018, the home recorded 17 falls, which has subsequently reduced to 4 in the period between February 2018 and July 2018. There is the same resident group in home, so the number has not been driven by a change in resident dependency.

The home attributes some of the reduction in falls to Oomph! exercise sessions, which incorporate fun and gameplay into seated physical activity classes. The home runs 2 sessions per week, with 6 or 7 residents participating each time – equating to 10 individuals getting active per week.

Falls at the home are measured through use of falls protocol. When a fall occurs, a form is completed, which then goes on to the system for Manager to investigate. Victoria Nursing Group’s Care Quality Director, Emma, will then assess all of the homes each month to determine number of falls and suggest a variety actions to reduce the amount of falls within the home.

“Falls have definitely been reduced – regular physical activity has led to people being more mobile and stronger. There is also increased staff confidence when supporting people thanks to the Oomph! training.” said Emma, the Care Quality Director.

The impact of the exercise sessions is clear to see in the home. One resident used to be unsteady on his feet, experiencing multiple falls, but since Oomph! started these falls have reduced and the resident has been able to walk into the garden with an improved level of confidence.

Ben, CEO and Founder of Oomph!, said, “I’m delighted to see the impact that regular exercise sessions have been having in the home. It’s fantastic that residents are becoming more confident and mobile, and as a result are experiencing a higher quality of life. A huge well done to the team at Chartwell!”

Sculpting new skills… Care home staff use their artistic license

By | Care Home

Staff from Orchard Care Homes have been sculpting out new skills at our workshop that focused on painting, sketching and modelling with clay, ready to take their newfound talents back to their respective homes for the benefit of residents.

The workshop, held at Lofthouse Grange and Lodge in Wakefield, brought together staff from five homes, teaching them the fundamentals of different skills and how they can practically apply these.

This means that residents will soon be involved in the Oomph! Create sessions, which aim to reignite past passions and encourage development of new hobbies.

“One of our residents at Lofthouse used to be an art teacher, I am sure she will not only get involved with Oomph! Create – she may also help run the class!” said Activities Coordinator, Kirsty, from Lofthouse Grange and Lodge.

There are also plenty of physical and mental benefits of the sessions…

“The painting and sculpturing is a great and unexpected form of relaxation and dexterity.” said Dani, an Activities Coordinator from Nesfield, whilst Kirsty from Lofthouse also explained that “Gladys will absolutely love the clay sculpturing due to the sensory aspect of the activity, she hasn’t got great eyesight but will love the feel of the clay!”

It’s not only an opportunity for residents to try something new, but also gives staff the chance to try their hand at different skills too. Tracey, an Activities Coordinator at Castleford Lodge commented, “We don’t normally do collages as such but it is something we will definitely try after the workshop!”

Jennie Wright, Lofthouse Lodge interim Care Home Manager, said “It was an absolute pleasure to host the Oomph! Create workshop here at Lofthouse Lodge and Grange. I am a real advocate of these fun and interactive workshops as they bring a wider variety of activities to our planners – but to host one and see Laurna in action was great. The day was a huge success and Lofthouse will be more than happy to accommodate anything else planned in the future.”

The workshop is one in a series of Oomph! workshops that Orchard Care Homes staff will be attending, with previous workshops focusing on adapting sports, music and relaxation techniques for the care setting.

Matt Hamblin, Senior Business Manager at Oomph!, said, “It was fantastic to see staff from all the Orchard Care Homes in the area join this Oomph! Create workshop. To see the staff building relationships with one another, sharing best practise and engaging in a brand new skill to take back to their homes was a privilege.”

Care homes get arty to celebrate Oomph! Create-mas

By | Care Home

In the spirit of Create-mas, we’re showcasing residents’ Christmas themed artworks that have been entered into our Oomph! Create competition. Inspired by the new workshops that we’re running in partnership with The Lightbox, Cedars, a brighterkind home in Salisbury, won the competiton with their fantastic sock snowmen. You can check out some of the other masterpieces below…

Residents to get creative with new Art Gallery partnership

By | Care Home

Oomph! have partnered with The Lightbox gallery and museum in Woking to design a brand new workshop for care home staff.

Staff have been sculpting out new skills that focus on painting, sketching and modelling with clay, ready to take their newfound talents back to their respective homes for the benefit of residents.

Held across various regions in the UK, the workshops bring together staff from local care homes, teaching them the fundamentals of the three different skills and how they can practically apply and adapt these for residents.

The workshop is one of four that are run throughout the year, as part of a wider wellbeing training and support programme run by Oomph!. Previous workshops include sport, relaxation and music. The aim is to upskill staff so that they can reignite residents’ past passions and encourage development of new hobbies.

Steve Gardner, Head of Training & Support at Oomph!, said; “We are always looking to create new partnerships that will drive innovation in our training, so that we can continually inspire and engage staff to take new skills back to their care settings. This is why we’re delighted to be working with The Lightbox to provide staff with fresh, new content for them to try out with residents, so that older adults can reap the mental, physical and social rewards of getting creative.”

Heather Thomas, Learning and Engagement Manager at The Lightbox added “We are incredibly proud that we have been able to share the amazing Health and Wellbeing work we are doing with older people at The Lightbox to those in care homes across the country.  Being able to inspire and encourage residents to be creative in whichever way they want is vital to their health and enjoyment of everyday life.


About The Lightbox Gallery

The Lightbox gallery and museum in Woking is home to three stunning galleries hosting a huge range of regularly changing exhibitions featuring world-renowned artists.

Alongside the exhibition programme they also run a number of stimulating community projects for a range of participants including the local homeless, those with mental health conditions and individuals living with the early stages of dementia. The Lightbox believes that art is a powerful therapeutic tool which can help promote happiness and provide relief from the difficulties of the everyday world. The varied range of stimulating community projects, including Art in Mind and Art Without Walls, enables participants to feel positive and creative without any expectation or pressure.

Art in Mind is a programme of monthly workshops for people in the early stages of dementia and their carers or supporters, supporting research that artistic stimulation prolongs the ability of people with dementia to play an active part in society. New to the programme is Art Without Walls, an arts-based outreach programme where The Lightbox delivers an art workshop in local care homes for people who would otherwise not have access to arts and heritage services.

The closing generational gap…

By | Care Home

Walking into a care setting for older adults, you might be surprised to see children’s tricycles in the gardens and toys in the lounges. But, thanks to intergenerational care and learning programmes, it’s now a sight that is becoming much more frequent.

As the UK catches up with The Netherlands, who have long been reaping the benefits of intergenerational programmes and shared sites, interest is now growing at a remarkable rate.

What are intergenerational programmes in care?

Ongoing intergenerational programmes that are purpose built to bring different generations together are now being introduced in care homes throughout the UK at a fast pace, enabling residents to share experiences that are not only thoroughly enjoyable, but proven to be extremely beneficial. These programmes, often based within care home living arrangements, are environments that can see various age groups interact through planned intergenerational activities.

For example, care homes and centres within the retirement community are inviting local children in for regular singing and music sessions, sports days and arts and crafts workshops. Taking this one step further, many are also incorporating on-site childcare, including nurseries and – in some cases – even providing housing for grandparents raising grandchildren. These shared sites provide a fun and positive environment where children and older adults can learn and interact in shared space.

Alleviating staff shortages

Some care settings focus on reducing staffing shortages by offering on-site childcare, including nurseries and pre and after school programmes. In addition to offering all the benefits of intergenerational activities and programmes, there is the added employee benefit, and many of these programmes can – and do – have reduced costs significantly through the pooling of resources.

Reducing isolation

Intergenerational shared sites and activities have proven benefits. Older adults who have access to these are less likely to feel isolated and lonely, and in contrast, feel more valued within their community, with a purpose, providing hope for the future. Those participating can see improved mental health, improved socialisation through regular contact with children, improved self-worth, increased independence and an improved sense of wellbeing. For older adults living with dementia, intergenerational programmes have shown lowered levels of agitation and delayed entrance into a nursing setting.

Known childhood benefits

But what about the children? Well, intergenerational programmes also benefit children. These benefits include enhanced social skills, lower levels of aggressive behaviour and improved academic performance.

There are some great ideas on how to introduce intergenerational activities into care homes – such as inviting local schools and playgroups to visit the care home to make friends with residents and participate in activities like baking, knitting, performing and rehearsing plays, Harvest festivals and Christmas carol singing. These activities can also span beyond the care home walls – for example, Barty House Nursing Home,  in Maidstone, Kent, have developed community links with a local school, recently taking a trip to visit the students to help with their 1950s project (pictured). These links ensure that knowledge and experiences are passed down through the generations.

Looking to the future

In summary, children can be a rare sight for many older adults living within care settings, but – with the rapid growth of intergenerational programmes across the UK – this will soon change. It is inevitable that the increasing creativity and diversity of the care environment will prompt these programmes to become an integral component of care – an absolute must-have for resident wellbeing.

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