fbpx Skip to main content

Care Home

Getting outdoors to tackle social isolation head on

By Care Home, Out and about

This year, on the 21st April, Care Home Open Day will be held in thousands of homes across the country for the 6th year running.

The theme of this year is ‘Linking Communities’ and is meant to help homes build relationships with local people and organisations, and – whilst there are clearly benefits to be had by increasing the number of visitors to care homes – I hope that an equal outcome will be that residents of care homes across the country feel closer and better connected to the communities around them as result.

Since I started working in care homes 6 years ago, I have always been aware of the number of barriers faced when supporting residents to stay connected to the communities around their homes. The reasons for this isolation in care might be a lack of transport, fear of leaving a safe environment or more simply, a lack of knowledge of accessible places to go and things that can be done there.

A 2013 study called Greening Dementia found that, whilst only 20% of people living with dementia considered their condition to be a barrier to using outdoor spaces, 83% of care staff believed that dementia limited the person’s ability to do so. This suggests that we aren’t simply facing logistical barriers, but also the misperceptions of those directly delivering care. And so, it is important that we not only provide ways and means of getting out and about, but that we also have a responsibility to raise awareness as to why it’s so vital.

Research has showed that spending as little as 5 minutes in nature, sometimes referred to as ‘a dose of nature’, can be good for health and wellbeing, and – whilst most people would accept that staying indoors for extended periods of time is bad for your health – knowing some of the true benefits that come with adventuring away from of the care environment is something we should all be able to talk about. Benefits such as:

  • A chance for spontaneous social encounters that aren’t possible without leaving the four walls of the home.
  • Opportunities to reminisce by encountering places, smells or sounds that might not have been revisited in a long time.
  • Improved relationships within the home, through shared experiences and personal discoveries, leading to greater empathy through care.
  • Better orientation with nature and the seasons for those who struggle to remember specific times and dates.

Have a look to see if any homes in your area are opening their doors this weekend, and if you’ve already been invited to visit a home this Care Home Open Day, then make sure you return the favour! Let residents and staff know about other community events they could attend or offer to join them as a volunteer on their next outing away from the home.

For more information, please email benjamin@oomph-wellness.org

New Care adds Oomph! to its activities programmes

By Care Home, Out and about

Fast growing care home operator, New Care, is adding extra ‘oomph’ to its already outstanding daily wellbeing and activities programmes.

The forward thinking care provider has teamed up with us to enhance mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. All New Care homes now have a number of specially trained in-house Oomphers who deliver the complete Oomph! programme for residents including exercise classes, one-to-one sessions and regular meaningful days out.

Offering many benefits including a reduction in isolation and improved social interaction, mental stimulation and physical mobility, the programme has been exceptionally well received and is now a firm favourite with residents in all homes, who look forward to the daily and weekly classes and exciting excursions.

Chief operating officer at New Care, Cath Fairhurst, commented: “Oomph! is all about making the residents happy and providing them with enjoyment and opportunities to socialise while promoting health and wellbeing. Our residents look forward to the Oomph! sessions and we usually have a full room for every class.

“We’ve even seen a huge difference in some residents who did not participate before we introduced Oomph!; it has significantly improved their quality of life and they are regulars at the classes and first to sign up for the days out which is great.”

A resident said: “Oomph! is wonderful, it’s something different every day so we never know what to expect. One day we’re dancing to music with scarves and pom poms and the next day we’re on a day trip to the seaside! It’s all thoroughly enjoyable, well organised and brings us all together for good fun.”


For more information, please email hello@oomph-wellness.org

Driving innovation in care

By Care Home, Community, Out and about

Hosted by the newly formed Department for Health and Social Care, Monday 19th March marked the final of the Care Innovation Challenge – a challenge created to bring young minds with new and innovative solutions to pre-defined sector challenges.

Only a few months ago we (Ben Wilkins, Ashish Goyal, Alex Ramamurthy and myself) launched the challenge for the care sector. We hosted 20 University students for a hackathon weekend in February, put six teams through to the Final and supported those teams with mentorship for the 4 weeks leading up to the final. The CIC Final was held at the Department of Health and Social Care and Hassan Zaidi’s Tumble Alert (http://tumblealert.com/) was chosen as the winner by our expert panel of judges (Avnish Goyal, David Brindle, Charlotte Bright, Vic Rayner, Martin Jones, Annie Webber MHA Annie Webber, and Albert Chong). Hassan has now secured funding from UnLtd to launch his business.

As a sector, social care has more employees and more beds than the NHS and provides the essential services and support to enable older adults in the UK to live independent, fulfilled and dignified lives but historically has struggled with the adoption of innovation. Often described as the valley of doom, the gap between ideation and market adoption is often just too big to bridge and many wonderful, life enhancing solutions never see the light of day. I hope that the Care Innovation Challenge will help bridge this gap.

I wouldn’t pretend that I’m a specialist researcher – or an expert, or a regulator – but, as a relatively layperson, I expect to see a seismic shift as residents (and family members) entering the sector will expect a whole lot more from social care, driving the sector to an entirely new place. In my short time in the sector I have seen a lot of change (not always good), I have seen luxury care home providers grow exponentially, whilst also seeing the direct results of funding cuts in services which are mainly local authority funded – the gap between the two is frightening.

Additionally there has been the launch of a multitude of different technology platforms promising to enhance care, reduce admin, care hours and costs. As the sector continues to develop, I foresee a convergence of the market with domiciliary care, day care, residential care and possibly sheltered housing becoming tightly integrated, often under one roof. I personally see this as one of the most exciting opportunities for disruptive change, ultimately leading to a person-centred approach, rather than a fragmented and disjointed experience.

I hope, like many in the care sector, the work we are doing at Oomph! helps to ensure that everyone (regardless of setting) enjoys a ‘full life for life’.

Ben Allen, CEO, Oomph! Wellness

To learn more, please contact:


NorseCare’s £20,000 Comic Relief grant to assist in transforming wellbeing culture through Oomph!

By Care Home

We are excited to announce our new partnership with NorseCare, who have won a £20,000 grant from Comic Relief to develop the skills and confidence of staff in five of their residential care homes, through Oomph!.

This will support a change in culture and create vibrant, creative communities. Residents will help design and take part in person-centered activities and exercise, having fun, keeping healthy and active and playing a valuable part in the life of their community.

NorseCare Staff will be trained by us to provide sessions at the homes which will focus on ensuring people are happy and engaged in purposeful activity that they enjoy. Some expected outcomes are that the number of falls people have may reduce, their sleeping patterns may improve and residents and staff will have more fun together.

Up to 150 residents plus 200 NorseCare staff will be invited to take part. Families will be encouraged to participate in the programme, resulting in improved engagement and relationships resulting in the creation of lovely memories together.

NorseCare’s Director of Care, Ann Reynolds explained how the programme will work: “We already have good strong links with local community groups for one-off activities such as school visits, fetes and gardening clubs, but we want to learn the best way of developing new, regular and sustainable relationships with special interest and activity groups for mutual benefit, as well as ensuring that every resident who lives in a NorseCare home enjoys every day. We believe this approach will foster new friendships and interests and stimulate our residents, promoting greater levels of happiness, reduced social isolation and feelings of loneliness.”

“This Comic Relief grant enables us to use some specific expertise from Oomph! Wellness, who we know have a great track record of producing beneficial outcomes for many different groups of people.”

Ben Allen, Oomph!’s CEO added: “Oomph! are delighted to have the opportunity to partner with NorseCare to engage staff and residents in an exciting activity and exercise programme. It is a privilege to be a key partner and support their drive for excellence across all homes. We share the same values and are thrilled to be adding additional fun and engagement to residents’ activities, to create happy, energised communities.”

All of NorseCare’s other homes will benefit over time as the learning is cascaded. “Champions” from the 5 homes in the initial project will share what they learn from the pilot across all NorseCare care homes and housing with care schemes.

For more information, email hello@oomph-wellness.org

Oomph! supports the Care Innovation Challenge

By Care Home, Community, Out and about

The care sector currently faces a multitude of challenges, presenting problems which are only due to worsen with an ageing population.

We want to find some answers.

This is why Oomph! are supporting the Care Innovation Challenge, a competition designed to kick start new ideas and solutions for the care sector through inviting students from a range of disciplines to think broadly on ways to create positive change. There’s still time to apply to take part here.

Taking place on the 17th – 18th February, teams will spend 2 days at our HQ in Wimbledon, where there will be intensive ideas generation, development and prototyping. All teams will present to judges from the care sector on the Sunday afternoon, where the top five teams will be supported with four intense weeks of mentoring and funding to test and trial their project and newly forming business.

The top five teams will return to Oomph! HQ on Saturday 17th of March to present their work and findings where ideas and people will be matched with funding and pilot opportunities.

Ben Allen, Oomph!’s CEO, said:

“The care sector will be responsible for the health, wellbeing and quality of life of an increasing number of older adults in the decades ahead. In order to undertake this challenge we need great ideas and innovation from dynamic and driven people who build mission-led organisations that create positive change.”

For more information, please visit www.careinnovationchallenge.com

Everyone’s talking wellbeing in care… but how do you drive business success and truly differentiate?

By Care Home

Wellbeing’s become a bit of a buzzword in the care sector these days – but it’s not just great for residents to focus on wellbeing, it’s also good for your business:

    • Great PR – Benefits for residents from activities or interesting initiatives are a primary way to get a positive news story for a home
    • Attractive to prospective clients – Age UK and Alzheimer’s Society rank ‘social life and activities’ in the top 5 criteria when choosing a care home
    • Supports your CQC rating – Care partners’ ratings have improved due to a well planned activity and exercise programme for residents.
    • Reduces care costs – Inactivity and low levels of engagement lead to loss of physical function and poor quality of life (NICE, 2013)
    • Increases staff retention and supports recruitment – there are 90,000 social care job vacancies in England (Skills for Care), so to make vacancies more appealing and retain staff, providing a vibrant and positive wellbeing-based culture is essential

However, wellbeing in care is constantly evolving and driving innovation in the sector.

Here are some of the TOP TRENDS that are at the forefront of wellbeing success:

Community Partnerships – particularly intergenerational – are providing essential social interaction opportunities: Homes are now running Dementia Friends sessions for schools, creating family support groups and hosting activity spaces – such as Mums & Tots, or Knit & Natter.

Smart use of Technology: Technology can create person-centred experiences so that residents are still able to enjoy events using virtual reality tours and bringing experiences to them. Furthermore, care and activity planning software is enabling staff to improve support via instant access to information.

Getting Outdoors more: Accessible, usable outdoor space is becoming essential. Regular outings are now in high demand – in 7 months our Oomph! Out & About service is already taking 1000+ residents out each month! Residents and their families are seeking engaging and culturally relevant experiences to enjoy beyond the home environment.

Providing Resident Ownership: This prompts a sense of purpose and achievement, whilst keeping minds and bodies active. Examples of this within our partner homes include an ex-librarian resident running a mobile library in the home for others, and a resident becoming chairman of the Resident Committee, with high engagement and peer-to-peer interaction.

A wellbeing culture in the care environment provides a true quality of life for elderly residents, enhanced job satisfaction for staff and a benchmark for business success.

To learn more, please contact parita@oomph-wellness.org

Photo: Park View Care Home, First Care Homes

Balhousie puts some Oomph! into its care homes with innovative partnership

By Care Home, Out and about

We are excited to be working with award-winning care home group Balhousie to put some Oomph! into the sector, making them the first organisation in Scotland to sign up to an activity programme with a difference. Balhousie Care Group operates 25 care homes in Scotland, and has linked up with us to deliver engaging exercise and activity programmes for residents.

Our mission is to improve the wellbeing of older adults, and we will work with Balhousie’s 25 care homes, offering fun exercise and activity sessions, as well as monthly trips out for residents, to a wide range of destinations in customised minibuses. The trips are personalised and include intensive training by Oomph! staff within each care home.

The collaboration is the latest move in Balhousie Care Group’s mission to be a trailblazer in the care home sector, delivering individualised care for residents. The Perth-based group has been tackling issues such as dementia and loneliness in innovative ways, from virtual reality technology to therapy with pets. Balhousie also ensures that its residents and family members have a say in their care, and care strategy.

Oomph! has already been delivering services in England with great success, set up by founder Ben Allen – a specialist in exercise for older adults – after he realised a gap in the market for providing better adult social care.

Louise Barnett, Operations Director for Balhousie Care, said:
“We’re delighted to be the pioneers of Oomph! programmes in Scotland, and the innovative ways they promote fitness and wellness. We know our residents will benefit hugely from Oomph!’s activities. This organisation’s philosophies are very much in line with ours, which are to look at care and wellness in unorthodox, exciting ways.”

Ben Allen, Chief Executive for Oomph!, said:
“Oomph! are excited to have the opportunity to work with the team at Balhousie, one of the leading care groups in the UK. It is a privilege to be a key partner and support their drive for innovation and excellence across all homes. We share the same values and entrepreneurial spirit and are delighted to be adding additional fun and engagement to resident’s activities.”

Sam has got the Oomph! Factor

By Care Home

Congratulations to 88-year-old Belong Warrington resident, Sam Clark, who has been crowned winner of our Oomph! Factor competition! The Oomph! Factor competition is a nationwide competition that focuses on finding enthusiastic participants who have had mental, social and/or physical benefits from their Oomph! sessions in care homes and communities across the UK, and Sam most certainly wowed the judges with his achievements.

Sam was presented with his trophy at a special ceremony at Belong Warrington which was attended by Oomph! representatives and featured a personalised broadcast news report by ITV Sports Editor Steve Scott, who judged the competition. Alongside his closest friends and family, Sam experienced a themed Oomph! session focussed around one of his all-time favourite artists, Frank Sinatra. To further celebrate his victory in style, we paid for Sam and his family to watch ‘The Rat Pack Vegas Spectacular’ show at Crewe Lyceum Theatre.

“It’s wonderful to see the positive impact that Oomph! is having on Sam’s general wellbeing and we are thrilled that his commitment has been recognised with this award.”
– Lisa McLaughlin, Activities Co-ordinator at Belong Warrington

Oomph! sessions are run twice a week at Belong Warrington and improve flexibility, social interaction and mental stimulation for older people through chair-based exercise to music with the use of stimulating props such as pom-poms and batons.

Our Oomph! Factor competition sought to find the most enthusiastic Oomphers in the country. Candidates we’re put forward and narrowed down and after a difficult decision making process, judges chose Sam from Belong Warrington as the winner as he truly is an Oomph!-fanatic. Sam never misses an Oomph! session and is always the first person to arrive to ensure he gets the best seat. After a fall in 2016, Sam lost much of his mobility, but since attending regular Oomph! sessions and a tailor made Belong Warrington exercise studio programme, Sam is back to being the life and soul of the party and lives an active lifestyle.

“We never have to encourage him to come to the sessions, in fact, he always reminds us early in the day and actually helps us to encourage other residents along too!”
– Lisa McLaughlin, Activities Co-ordinator at Belong Warrington