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Sports Governing Bodies Launch New Scheme To Beat Older Adult Inactivity And Loneliness With Fun And Games

By | Community

Oomph! are partnering with professional bodies for volleyball, weightlifting, orienteering and boccia to bring healthy competition to over 55s.

The national governing bodies for volleyball, weight lifting, orienteering and boccia are today launching revamped versions of their games to attract over 55s to sport thanks to a ground-breaking partnership with Oomph!.

We aim to tackle inactivity and loneliness with our national plan to get 27,000 older adults doing regular, fun exercise within two years. Training is already well underway for workers and volunteers in venues catering for independent older adults such as retirement villages and housing associations – equipping them with the skills, knowledge and adapted equipment to run sports classes with an element of healthy competition. Venues from Lancashire to Hertfordshire will start running modified sports classes this week.

All activities have been designed to be run by instructors, who will undergo comprehensive training from Oomph!, and without expensive regulation equipment and facilities. Volleyball England has approved a fabric covered inflatable ball and bunting in place of an official net; British Weight Lifting has designed resistance exercises using foam pool noodles and recommends the use of everyday objects such as water bottles as hand weights; British Orienteering is helping venues to create walking (or marching) courses which use post boxes and other local landmarks as checkpoints and Boccia England has taken the principles of a Paralympic sport and modified them for older adult settings, for example by suggesting the use of bean bags in place of specialist bowling balls. Other sports’ National Governing Bodies are now in discussions with Oomph! about versioning their games for this growing demographic.

Ben Allen, CEO of Oomph! said, “By ‘gamifying’ exercise for older adults we’re making it fun and sociable rather than functional. We already use sports rather than pure exercise to motivate previously reluctant participants to join our classes on a regular basis. However, this new combination of Oomph!’s expertise with the appeal and competitive edge of professional sports bodies, is game-changing.”

Peter Hart, CEO of British Orienteering commented, “At British Orienteering we are proud to be a sport that encompasses a wide age group, we have active members in their 90s, but working with Oomph! is the first time we have adapted many of our introductory activities to work with inactive older adults. It’s my belief that orienteering can offer older adults a fantastic mix of physical and mental exercise by adapting the challenge to suit their abilities.”

Gillian Harrison, Technical and Talent Coordinator at Volleyball England commented, “We are always keen for people to join the volleyball family because we know that everyone can get involved and benefit socially and physically – volleyball is the sport for everybody. Sitting Volleyball is one of the disciplines of volleyball which is already popular and a great chance for players with and without a disability to play together. So, we jumped at the chance to work with the experts at Oomph! to provide an adapted form of the game for the older age group. Their knowledge of how older adults could benefit from an active lifestyle made it easy to develop the concept of armchair volleyball.”

Zoe Metcalfe Head of Workforce at British Weight Lifting commented, “British Weight Lifting is delighted to partner with Oomph! on this exciting new initiative. This is the first time that weight lifting has been adapted to this age group and we have developed an innovative programme that is engaging and fun.”

Among the first providers to run Oomph! in the Community are Quantum, a retirement living provider, who are running the newly revamped sports classes in its daycare centres in Hertfordshire.

Maria Ball, CEO of Quantum Care commented, “At Quantum Care we are always looking for new and exciting ways to encourage our day-care users and residents to stay healthy, active and full of fun.  This is why we are so pleased to be partnering with Oomph! to train 48 members of the Quantum Care team to deliver exciting and impactful exercise sessions for older adults in Hertfordshire.

“Once our staff complete their training we will be offering exercise sessions across 16 care homes and will be encouraging the local community to join us in our efforts to help keep the people we care for, and the people of Hertfordshire, active and healthy”.

Sport England has put tackling inactivity at the heart of its strategy and launched the Active Ageing fund to tackle inactivity in the over 55s. Mike Diaper, Executive Director at Sport England said:

“Being active is one of the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing as they age. We’re delighted to be supporting Oomph! with National Lottery funding to help get older adults to lead happier and heathier lives. We’ll be sharing learnings so successful approaches can be scaled-up or replicated across the country.”

 

Photo credit: Anson Court, Quantum Care

 

For more information on Oomph! in community settings, please email david@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:

ben@oomph-wellness.org
lisat@oomph-wellness.org

Sport England Active Ageing Initiative gains traction as Oomph! and Places for People get active in the community

By | Community

Oomph! are partnering with Places for People Living+, a leading specialist supported housing provider in the UK, to train staff, volunteers and customers.

This is part of the Sport England subsidised programme, which aims to get 27,000 over 55s from inactive to active within the next two years. The pioneering partnership enables 12 Living+ venues across the North West and South East to deliver fun, regular exercise sessions for customers, whilst also engaging the wider community.

The fun-first training incorporates strength, flexibility and coordination, with games such as Armchair Volleyball and Clock Cricket – all adapted from traditional versions of the sports to make them accessible for people with a variety of needs and abilities, whilst retaining gameplay and fun!

One Oomph! course attendee said “This course was so much fun and I hope other customers enjoy Oomph! as much as I do!”

Suzanne Porter, Living+ Services Manager for Later Life said “We are excited to be partnering with Oomph! as part of this initiative to help get more of our older customers active. We have thoroughly enjoyed the training so far and look forward to getting out into more of our communities to deliver a range of fun activities which improve the health and wellbeing of the people we support”.

Glenis Griffin, Living+ Housing and Wellbeing Advisor and instructor, said “Oomph! has already made such a difference to our customers, improving their mobility and fitness whilst having a great time. It makes my job so worthwhile when I hear our customers laugh and see the results the activities are having”.

Ben Allen, Oomph!’s CEO, said: “Oomph! are excited to be working with the Places for People Living+ team. It is a privilege to be a key partner and support their wellbeing initiatives across their communities. We are delighted to be adding additional fun and engagement to exercise sessions, and look forward to working together over the coming months!”

Loneliness… Not just on Valentine’s Day!

By | Community

On a day when love is celebrated across the world, it seems apt to examine the other side of the coin: loneliness.

The appointment of Tracey Crouch as the Minister for Loneliness highlights its increasing public profile. And rightly so, as illustrated by the now much used statistic that loneliness is as bad for your health as smoking 15 cigarettes a day, it’s not just the depth of the problem that’s staggering – it’s also the scale. Although not a problem exclusive to those in later life, a recent English Longtitudinal ageing study found that 1.2m people over 65 in the UK are persistently or chronically lonely.

Much has been done across the public and VCS sector, with excellent initiatives, such as the Campaign to End Loneliness and the Jo Cox Foundation, grappling with the complexities of the loneliness. Thanks to their work, it has become clear that there is no silver bullet to fix the problem. Instead, it requires collaboration on a national, local and individual level, with many organisations bringing potential solutions to the table.

Although loneliness is often associated with people living in their own homes, it is also rife in settings where a person may be surrounded by other older people. This is illustrated in Care Homes, covered by an excellent blog written by Tim Owen. Furthermore, going into sheltered housing does not ‘guard against’ loneliness (as might be expected by family members) – studies have shown little differences in the levels of loneliness across settings.

So, how can we combat loneliness?

  • Concentrate on the positives. Older adults need to enjoy themselves, to do what they like doing – this could be attending a drawing class in a care home, a game of seated volleyball in their communal sheltered lounge, or going on a trip to the beach. This means bringing activity to an audience that doesn’t always know what’s possible, in environments they are used to, led by people they trust – improving likelihood of engagement.
  • Provide opportunities for meaningful volunteering. Contribution plays a part in improving self-esteem and provides valuable opportunities for social engagement. This means focusing on what people can achieve, not focusing on their problem now. Give older people a net with which to fish, rather than just providing the fish.

From doing these two things, Oomph! have seen some positive results so far – EQ-5D improvements have been encouraging (13% increase compared to ELSA comparisons), but through the rigorous academic study of our community work, we hope to tease out more on the mental and social impact.

One exercise session a week may not may not solve the loneliness issue – no single solution will. But ensuring there are enjoyable and easily accessible opportunities for social engagement will certainly improve the lives of many older people. We’re committed to positive ageing and to end loneliness. That would bring joy to our hearts on Valentines Day!

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

 

SOURCE: Burholt, V., Nash, P. and Philips, J. 2013. The impact of supported living environments on social resources and the experience of loneliness for older widows living in Wales: An exploratory mediation analysis Family Science 4(1): 121-132

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

Oomph! wins Sport England grant to energise communities

By | Community

Oomph! has been announced as the largest delivery partner of Sport England’s £10m Active Ageing Fund. With £915k National Lottery Funding from Sport England, Oomph! will get 27,000 adults doing regular exercise within two years. We will train around 1600 workers and volunteers in retirement villages and community venues to run adapted sports activities for older people.

Prioritising online applications from venues in the North West of England and London and the South East before moving on to other regions, our fun-first approach involves bringing elements of lesser-known sports including volleyball, weightlifting, boccia and urban orienteering. We will enable regular sessions to be provided to wide audience through housing associations, retirement villages and at public venues such as libraries and community centres.

We are working with the National Sports Governing Bodies for each of these four sports and in some cases drawing upon Paralympic Games versions.

The Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT) has advised Oomph! on how to reach as many housing association locations as possible. Barry Malki, Head of Communities, HACT said:

“HACT is working with Oomph on this innovative project to help enable more older adults to be active in their own homes. We’re excited to see the initiative being scaled up with this funding, as housing providers are increasingly looking to support their residents to improve their health and wellbeing through alternative and innovative methods”

To enable the project to achieve wide reach, Oomph! has secured the involvement of the County Sports Partnership Network, an England-wide group of organisations who are responsible for facilitating sports and activity at a local level. Inactive people over the age of 55 are a large and diverse group (roughly 6.4 million people) so age and community appropriate programmes will be tailored to each setting. An anticipated 800 venue partners will use a bespoke app uploaded onto a tablet computer to enable Oomph! to report in real-time to Sport England and direct additional support to partners that are struggling to keep people on the programme.

Nicky Ellison, National Specialist Support Manager at Hanover Housing Association who piloted Oomph! in the Community at six retirement and extra care venues this year:

“Oomph! trained both staff and a volunteer resident from each venue to lead activity-based sessions. Training residents as session leaders really helped gain buy-in from all the residents and ensure that sessions are truly co-produced. We were amazed at the skills and self-belief that Oomph!’s trainers instilled in all the trainee instructors, most of whom had never done anything like it before. The result has been people of wide ranging abilities pushing themselves out of their comfort zone week after week. The buzz, laughter and socialisation continues well after the sessions. With real-time monitoring of activity levels, Oomph! has been able to swoop in to offer new resources and extra support if there have been early signs of a drop in attendees or practical issues that are affecting the success of the programme.”

Mike Diaper, Executive Director at Sport England said: “Being active is one of the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing as they age. We’re delighted to be supporting Oomph! with National Lottery funding to help get older adults lead happier and heathier lives. We’ll be sharing learnings so successful approaches can be scaled-up or replicated across the country.”

Click here to find out more and register for match funding

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