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Oomph! Nature Series: 5 Steps To Mental Wellbeing

By Care Home

During unprecedented times and at a time when the care sector is being affected enormously by the current Coronavirus situation, resident wellbeing is even more important than ever, to ensure that they remain stimulated mentally, physically and emotionally.

As part of this Oomph! are keen to support care homes across the UK with stimulating, fresh and varied content to ensure that residents are engaged during this time when they might be feeling disconnected from their friends, families and the outside world.

We will be releasing resources based on our Oomph! skills workshops, starting with a digital Oomph! Nature mini-series. These will cover a variety of topics, providing fresh and engaging activity ideas and top tips. These resources, and more, will be uploaded to our Wellbeing Resources Hub.

We want to support the sector in every way we can – if you have any questions, or have any suggestions for ongoing content, please don’t hesitate to get in contact.

Vista M Kelly “Snowflakes are one of nature’s most fragile things, but just look at what they can do when they stick together.” 

Connect.

In small groups encourage residents to tell stories about their lives outdoors. A trip to the beach? An exotic holiday? A forest adventure? Or a simple story about being in their garden?

Keep Learning.

Source some nature themed poetry and read it with residents. Find out about the author and some interesting facts. For example, John Keats ‘To Autumn.’

Be Active.

Source some house plants and replant them in pots that residents can personalise. The plants can then go in their rooms. Or offer residents a hand massage by the window looking out to the garden.

Give to others.

Buy some flowers and separate them individually. Tie a ribbon around each flower and make a bow. Attach a card with a positive message, or write something kind. Hand out to residents in the home.

Be Mindful.

Why not take something from the garden and ask residents to describe what they see? For example, with a flower you could focus on the different colours, textures and shapes. Residents could draw what they see or write it down.

Play some nature themed sounds, for example birds singing, the sounds of the ocean or forest. Encourage residents to do breathing exercises while listening to the music. This could be simply breathing in for 2, holding for 2 and exhaling for 2.

 

You can download the PDF of this resource here.

You can view all of our Oomph! Skills Workshops bitesize resources here. 

Top tips for engaging care home residents to maintain a healthy diet

By Care Home

It’s National Nutrition and Hydration Week this week, so our Regional Wellbeing Coordinator, Georgie, provides some top tips on how you can use food and drink to engage residents…

It’s easy to forget how important good hydration and nutrition are – particularly for those who live in care homes. Yet it is an essential part of our health and quality of life, no matter our age – a balanced diet helps to give our body the right nutrients and energy it needs to function, reducing our risk of developing chronic health conditions and helping us fight colds and infections.

Dehydration can have significant consequences for residents; therefore, good hydration can help prevent Urinary Tract Infections, which often lead to confusion and other complications. It can be more difficult for residents to recognise when they are thirsty, and often harder for them to physically get a drink for themselves.

So, here are Georgie’s Top 10 tips on how to use food and drink activities to engage residents to stay hydrated and eat healthily whilst living in their care home…

 

Tickle the taste buds.

Giving residents the opportunity to try new, healthy food options will provide stimulation. A taste testing is great for this, with residents voting on which they prefer – the results could inform future menu choices for the kitchen team. Or, to bring a new dimension to baking, try using fruit and vegetables in muffins, cakes or tray bakes – try carrot cake, courgette muffins or chocolate beetroot brownies. Residents may be interested in guessing the flavour following a blind taste test.

Tasty talks.

Chatting and reminiscing about food can be a great, quick and easy way to get stomachs rumbling. Chat in a group, or one-to-one, about favourite recipes, recipes that residents have enjoyed throughout their lives, or maybe different recipes from their culture. You can have baking and tasting sessions in the following weeks to try some of these out, and create a cookbook for your home.

Increase availability.

By having food and drink available throughout the day, this will encourage residents to increase their consumption – after all, most people enjoy a snack or two (or three!) over and above their meals. Working with the kitchen team to make healthy snacks available will encourage residents to eat outside of mealtimes. Having Hydration Stations around the home can help to encourage residents to drink more.

Adapt to resident preferences.

By enabling food activities offered to be tailored to each resident, this will make options more appealing – for example, you can jazz up the end of your week up by creating Fruit Kebabs with residents, with each resident selecting their favourite fruits to go on the kebab.

Fit and functional.

Being active and eating fibre rich foods can help with constipation – some residents may be reluctant to eat due to concerns about this. Incorporating regular active sessions, with healthy snacks and fluids in the middle, will aid the digestion process.

Hydration beyond water.

Not all residents will enjoy drinking plain water, so you can be creative in providing foods and other drinks with a high fluid content. By making jelly in small sweet size moulds, residents may be more inclined to try these jelly sweets, as they don’t always associate jelly with fluid intake. Equally, lollies in various flavours can not only hydrate, but also provide great reminisce for residents – why not freeze some milk and put a lollypop stick in the milk before it freezes, just like residents may have had when they were younger. See if anyone can remember having cold milk in a glass bottle at School!

Variety is the spice of life.

Mixing up the liquids on offer can help increase residents’ hydration levels in a different and exciting way. How about iced decaffeinated coffees, iced decaffeinated teas, flavoured teas or flavoured hot chocolates? Adding fresh fruit to water gives flavour and colour, which is great for residents that may be reluctant to drink plain water.

Involve and engage.

Encourage residents to come up with different types of smoothies, make these at your home with fruit and vegetables, or buy a variety of different smoothies and ask residents to have a try. This can be great to keep residents hydrated after an exercise session, plus you can make a competition to name the smoothies. Or, try making some fizzy drinks with different flavours, such as strawberry or raspberry, for a great sensory experience for residents.

Keep it accessible.

Carrying a water bottle around with you throughout your day not only keeps you hydrated, but reminds residents to drink when they see someone else drinking. You may need to get water bottles with long bendy straws for some residents, especially those being nursed in bed, so that these are easily accessible.

Warm it up.

Try heating up drinks that would usually be consumed cold, such as milk, as some residents may prefer their drinks warm. You could also provide a warm cup of soup, this can be a great way for residents to hydrate, as this is often seen as food and not a liquid intake.

Abbey Healthcare staff and residents get some Oomph! with wellbeing partnership!

By Care Home, Out and about

Speaking of the impact on the home after training, a member of staff said, “One resident who doesn’t normally join in with activities, started smiling and showed signs of happiness as she engaged in an Oomph! session.”

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

Following a successful pilot with 6 of the homes in the portfolio, staff in the remaining 10 Abbey Healthcare homes will be taking a whole-home approach to activities, being trained in Oomph!’s 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.

One member of staff commented, “It was all very useful and will help me to engage better with our residents. It was good fun and educational.”

The programme also includes a series of skills workshops, including Oomph! Sensory, which is based on the Namaste Care philosophy, enabling relaxation, tranquillity and engagement. The workshop provides an alternative approach to many other types of physical activity, and includes techniques such as hand massage. This is particularly relevant for individuals who are less able, and are perhaps nursed in their beds or living with advanced dementia. Further workshops focus on culture, dance and sport.

Additionally, engaging days out to a range of destinations are running for 11 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 Abbey Healthcare trips have already been going to interesting locations, such as East Anglia Railway Museum, Royal Air Force Museum and Knowsley Safari Park.

A member of staff said of a recent trip to the Railway Museum, “We found that on the trip, residents were really engaging with each other. They enjoyed the guided tour, listening intensely to what was being said. We chatted and reminisced about the old railways – some of the residents were very knowledgeable about railways and local history!”

Andy Taylor, Group Finance Director at Abbey Healthcare, comments: “Oomph! has really enabled us to up our wellbeing offering for residents – and feedback from residents has been overwhelmingly positive.  Not only that, but our staff are now really engaged in wellbeing – it’s improving staff morale and the quality of care we provide for our residents.”

Ben Allen, Oomph’s CEO and Founder, said: “Oomph! are delighted to be partnering with Abbey Healthcare, it is a privilege to be an integral part of the organisation’s wellbeing provision and we are excited to help ensure that Abbey Healthcare residents life a full life, for life.”

 

Pictured: The Team at Aaron Court show off their certificates after completing the Oomph! Relax workshop, which has been developed with experts to use the principles of yoga, pilates, tai chi and mindfullness to bring sessions of relaxation and tranquility to residents.

Exercise sessions give 101-year-old care home resident new lease of life

By Care Home

Phil is an incredible 101-years-old. He’s a resident at Whitefriars Care Home in Stamford, part of The Orders of St John Care Trust and has recently discovered a passion for exercise sessions facilitated by Oomph!.

After being trained by Oomph!, the team at Whitefriars began delivering three exercise classes a week for residents, and they’ve had resoundingly positive feedback and very high participation levels.

It soon became clear that Phil, who is living with dementia, enjoyed taking part in these classes – so much so that he now helps lead the sessions! The exercise sessions have given Phil a new lease of life, and he has come out of his shell since arriving at the home – not only does he encourage other residents to join in with the classes, but he also encourages them to join in with other activities at the home, including gardening in the summer months.

Phil’s enthusiasm didn’t go unnoticed with Oomph!’s Regional Wellbeing Coordinator, Jade, awarding him with his very own Oomph! t-shirt to wear.

‘Oomph! has brought the community of Whitefriars together, including those that come in on Day Care, which is absolutely amazing. It’s great because everybody gets involved. I would love Oomph! to continue at Whitefriars without a shadow of a doubt.’ commented Shelly, House Manager at Whitefriars Care Home

You can read the full case study by Nesta here.

Oomph! Release Annual Impact Report 2019

By Care Home, Community, Out and about

We’re delighted to release our brand new Oomph! Impact Report 2019. This has been an inspirational year for us, our clients and the residents we support. 

Here are some highlights from the report:

  • We have trained over 5,400 staff, and have delivered over 55,000 exercise classes
  • 100% of staff would recommend our training to a colleague
  • We have gone on 5,500 trips, taking 21,000 residents Out & About

You can read the full report here, for detailed information and some wonderful stories that bring the facts and stats to life.

A big thank you to all of our partners who have contributed to our success this year, we couldn’t have done it without you. We look forward to another inspiring year…

Roll on 2020!

 

Image: Karuna Manor, TLC

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 www.bbc.co.uk/musicday

 

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.

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.

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.

Motivation

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