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10 top tips to help a person living with dementia in distress

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10 top tips to help a person living with dementia in distress

Oomph Wellness in partnership with Kate Thubron,

Mindful Care Consultancy

  1. Know the person

Find out about the person’s life history. This may help in understanding what might cause moments of distress and ways that you can help them.

  1. Knowledge of the brain

Gain further knowledge and understanding on the functions of the brain and how damage in certain areas may affect behaviour. This will help in understanding why someone may be feeling distressed but also ways to help.

  1. Remain calm

Try to remain calm. The person might say something upsetting to you when they are distressed. Take 5 to 10 seconds and think about what you’re going to say before you reply

  1. Mind your tone

Use a soothing and steady tone of voice

  1. Look for any unmet needs

Look for any signs that they have a need that is not being fulfilled. For example, are they in pain?, Need something to eat? Need comfort or reassurance?

  1. Provide validation

Reassure them that you are listening to them and that you are there to try and help

  1. Be aware of the environment

Observe anything in the environment that could be causing any further distress. Minimise distractions.

  1. Provide opportunities for meaningful engagement

Provide opportunities for the person to engage in an activity that is meaningful and enjoyable. After validating and listening to their feelings a shift in focus may help calm the person down.

  1. Avoid labelling

Using words or phrases that label, stigmatise and depersonalise people can have a big impact on someone. It can change the way they feel about themselves, their feelings and self-esteem. Labelling can also cause the way they are treated. For example, if someone is labelled ‘aggressive’ it may cause approaches to care to be unintentionally confrontational.

  1. Gain support

Sometimes asking for help can provide a fresh and new perspective on what may be causing distress and how to help.  Do not be offended if a person prefers to be cared for by someone else in that moment in time.

For more information about Wellbeing Training and Oomph On Demand please contact Oomph here.

Is a cup of tea always the answer?

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Is a cup of tea always the answer?

Authored by Kate Thubron – Mindful care consultancy in Partnership with Oomph Wellness.

In support of Dementia Awareness Week, it is said that a cup of tea can solve everything, whether you’re a fan of an Earl grey, green or classic breakfast tea.

A cup of tea can indeed make you feel better, but is this always the answer for someone living with dementia who may be experiencing some form of distress?

Imagine you wake up not recognising the place you are in. You look for your partner or some form of clue to where you are and why you are there. However, your surroundings are unfamiliar and there is no-one around that you know. People are around and they look like they should be able to help. They are wearing uniforms and smiling. You try to ask for help, but you cannot express the words as you would like. They come out jumbled. They continue to smile, but your frustration grows because you need to know where you are, and no-one seems to be listening to you. You just want to go home! However, you are led to the dining room with other people you do not recognise and given a cup of tea.

As care partners it is vital that we reflect on how we would like to be treated in that situation. Stop and ask yourself:

– How would you feel in this situation?

– How would you feel and react if you did not feel listened to?

– Would shouting or crying be a valid human reaction in this situation?

– Would the cup of tea help you?

– What actions would help you?

The chances are, that the cup of tea would not help you recognize the people or place, nor would it help you feel safe and familiar in your surroundings. Therefore, this reaction of shouting or crying results from an unmet need.

The word ‘unmet’ is essentially saying a need has not been addressed. As care partners, we can start to address a person’s unmet need simply by acknowledging the persons feelings. All human beings have needs and when they are unmet, this can cause upset or distress, but we develop the ability to express these needs to help us address them.

Knowing that this is likely a reaction to something that is not right, we can start to ensure that we acknowledge the persons feelings and help appropriately. These needs could include warmth, comfort, food, love or company. People with brain changes or damage still have these needs. However, it may be more difficult to express these needs easily in a way we understand. As care partners, it is therefore vital that we look for alternative ways a person may be trying to communicate with us.

Teepa Snow identifies three areas of unmet wants and needs to look out for:

Unmet physical needs

Hunger and thirst

Tired and/or overstimulated

Bowel or urinary distress



Unmet emotional needs






Unmet psycho-social needs







If distressed behaviours, such as shouting or crying, are a form of communication, we need to consider the language we use for them. Labelling these behaviours as ‘aggressive’ or ‘challenging’ demonstrates we are not acknowledging or addressing the unmet need. Instead, it places an emphasis on how the care partner is feeling about the situation. This will not lead to the person’s unmet need being met and will likely increase in distress.

Teepa Snow asks us to, ‘Be a detective and not a judge’.

Acknowledge the distress, investigate the unmet need from the lists above and take action to help provide what is needed. Don’t expect a cup of tea to solve all physical, emotional or psychosocial unmet needs. It just won’t! However, once that need is met, a cup of tea may well be enjoyed in the way intended!

For more information about Wellbeing Training and Oomph On Demand please contact Oomph here.

Oomph Wellness partner with Kate Thubron, an Award winning Dementia Care Expert and trained Occupational Therapist…

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Oomph Wellness partner with Kate Thubron, an Award winning Dementia Care Expert and trained Occupational Therapist…

Oomph are delighted to partner with Kate bringing even more specialist expertise to assist with training and content development and driving further diversity of the overall Oomph product offering.

Kate is a trained Occupational Therapist and previous Dementia Care lead for a large care home company, covering 37 care homes and overseeing a team of 68 dementia leads. Plus additional training and experience received from University of Stirling, Teepa Snow as an official UK Trainer and the Dementia Alliance.

Her experience to date has covered advising, coaching and training diverse teams and supporting companies to develop Dementia training and Wellbeing training in line with national guidelines and policies. Additionally experience in developing company care strategies and the tools required to implement and review this alongside auditing and carrying out quality care inspections.

Kate Thubron commented

“I am delighted to partner with Oomph to help develop specialised content for their training and on demand service. Having worked with Oomph before in previous roles I have seen first hand what amazing support and services they provide for care providers. To be part of this development is very exciting.”

Ben Allen, Chief Executive, Oomph Wellness commented

“We are delighted to be working with Kate and to be able to enhance our specialist expertise from both a training and resources perspective. Kate has invaluable experience within dementia care and will be able to play a significant role in the future evolution of the Oomph business and the services we provide.”

The partnership enables Oomph to provide more specialist and evidence based support such as Cognitive Stimulation Therapy and will be invaluable in supporting the development of both training content and resources for our On Demand platform.

Outside of work Kate is married with twins who are 18 months old, is a Big football – ITFC fan and animal lover with two miniature dachshunds called Frank and Audrey…

To find out more about Oomph! On Demand, please get in touch here.

L&M Healthcare teams up with Oomph! to help residents engage in person-centred exercise and activities…

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L&M Healthcare teams up with Oomph! to help residents engage in person-centred exercise and activities…

The award-winning social enterprise Oomph! are providing fun-filled training and support to six L&M Healthcare homes.

Taking a whole-home approach to activities, teams will have expert-led training in Oomph!’s Wellbeing Leadership programme. This will equip them with everything they need to create and sustain a person-centred plan of varied exercise and activities that each resident loves. The training is tailored to each home and focuses on meeting and exceeding regulatory requirements.

Each home has access to Oomph!’s new digital platform, Oomph! On Demand. This platform provides engaging exercise and activity content 365 days a year, across a diverse range of topics and meeting a range of interests and abilities –meaning care teams will be able to support residents to tune into live and recorded seated exercise sessions including things like ballet, chair yoga and mindfulness. Residents will also be able to enjoy a wide variety of activity resources, from virtual tours of Scotland to language lessons, and from history talks to music concerts.

The site is full of interactive quizzes, activity ideas, an interactive activity calendar which can be selected according to a desired wellbeing goal or resident’s interests.

Jo Fogg, Operations Director from L&M Healthcare commented…

‘We have some very creative Wellbeing Leads in our homes who have been providing person-centred activities for many years. Adding Oomph to their toolkits enables them to cut down on the vast amount of research time needed for planning and creating activities, leaving them more time to engage with residents.

Initial feedback has been extremely positive, and we are looking forward to seeing how this enhances the provision of person-centred activities and exercise in our homes over the coming months.’

Ben Allen, CEO from Oomph Wellness, commented…

‘We are excited to be partnering with L&M Healthcare to drive person centred wellbeing in the homes and ensure that staff and residents have access to inspirational wellbeing activities 24/7, 365 days a year. Oomph will work closely with L&M Healthcare to ensure we are constantly providing meaningful engagement across every home.’

To find out more about Oomph! On Demand, please get in touch here.

Vindico Becomes Official Tech Partner of Oomph Wellness!

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Vindico Becomes Official Tech Partner of Oomph Wellness!

 Oomph! is pleased to announce our latest tech partnership with Vindico

Oomph!’s latest tech partnership will see us collaborate with Vindico to drive Oomph! On Demand and its related services.

As the UK’s leading wellbeing business for older adults, Oomph! is on a mission to positively change the impact of ageing. They aim to do this through nationwide training, support, solutions, and days out.

And as tech partner, Vindico will now be lending an innovative hand to help Oomph! do just that.

The partnership will cover all aspects of tech related to Oomph!’s On Demand services. Led by Technical Director Ryan Griffiths, Vindico’s Purple Vinjas will be using their expertise to help Oomph! streamline the brand’s digital approach whilst also enhancing the customer experience.

Speaking of the new tech partnership, Vindico MD, Jo Polson says:

“Their wonderful offerings already bring massive improvement to the lives of those in care so the opportunity to be part of this evolution and create an even bigger impact makes all of us at Vindico delighted to be part of the future journey of Oomph!”

Adding to this, Ben Allen, CEO and Founder, Oomph! Wellness says:

“We are delighted to be working with Vindico to refine and develop our technology solutions for care teams. This exciting partnership will enable us to step up our offering and bring a whole new level of wellbeing to the sector.”

To find out more about Oomph! On Demand, please get in touch here.

From Qigong to Bollywood: Care Services Getting Active with New Wellbeing Initiative

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Two organisations have partnered up with award-winning social enterprise Oomph! to provide care services with a huge variety of exercise resources.

This aims to keep service users fit and healthy, with everything from chair-based salsa video workouts to strength and balance exercise plans.

The two organisations, Leap and team BEDS&LUTON, worked in partnership on a joint application to Sport England, to receive vital funding to support care services with access to the Oomph! On Demand digital platform.

17 care services in Bedfordshire, Luton, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes are now using the digital platform, which is full of exercise and activity resources. The resources are designed specifically for care homes, sheltered housing, retirement living, day centres and other care providers.

The platform features a wide variety of exercise content, from adapted chair-based dance sessions to exercise plans and mindfulness videos, and activity content including interactive quizzes, printable activity books and a weekly newspaper.

The partnership is the first of its kind and will robustly track and measure the impact of the support on Bedfordshire, Luton, Buckinghamshire and Milton Keynes participants using regular forms.

Clare Fitzboydon, Director of team BEDS&LUTON commented:

“We have been delighted to be able to support the Oomph! on Demand pilot as it sits perfectly with our strategy ‘Moving Forwards Together’. I believe that this will support the creation of a new culture with adult social care and beyond, where older people routinely engage in physical activity that will enable them to feel fitter, stronger, happier and more confident to move more. It is important we work in partnership to help those who struggle the most to be physically active and this is a great example of this collaborative approach.”

 A Manager of a Luton Residential Care Home commented:

“Music is a joy to interact with the service users with, residents really enjoy the music and movement session and also the workbooks/puzzles about music – the Oomph! On Demand resources are excellent.”

A Care Home Resident commented:

“I really enjoy the chair exercises, they are so fun to do!”

An Activity Coordinator in a Care Home in Milton Keynes commented:

“The online sessions boosted the residents’ confidence with mobility. One particular resident was left in a very happy and confident mood soon after the session finished, she felt more able to walk and move better”.

Abbi Mckane, Project Participation Manager for Leap: 

“It’s great to be working with Oomph! On Demand on this pilot.  At Leap we are always looking for new and innovative ways to help improve the health and wellbeing of older adults.

We are excited to work in partnership with organisations from Bucks and Milton Keynes to enable their residents to feel more confident, independent and happier to access opportunities that support them to be more active”.

The platform is available 365 days a year, across a diverse range of topics and meeting a range of interests and abilities. It will enable service users to tune into live and recorded sessions, including language lessons, virtual tours and history talks.

Staff and service users are able to select activities according to their desired wellbeing goal or personal interests.

 Matt Hamblin, Business Director at Oomph! Wellness commented:

“Oomph! are delighted to be working with team BEDS&LUTON and Leap on this exciting new partnership. Oomph! On Demand will be able to provide invaluable resources and inspiration to drive meaningful engagement for residents across all participating services.”

To find out more about Oomph! On Demand, please get in touch here.

Barchester Healthcare teams up with Oomph! to help residents live life to the fullest

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Barchester Healthcare is partnering with award-winning social enterprise Oomph! to engage residents and staff in a holistic world of wellbeing.

The 248 homes and hospitals that are part of the Barchester Healthcare portfolio have access to Oomph! On Demand, which is Oomph!’s new digital platform. The platform provides engaging exercise and activity content 365 days a year, across a diverse range of topics and meeting a range of interests and abilities.

Oomph! On Demand enables residents to tune into live and recorded exercise sessions, including ballet, salsa and Bollywood dancing. They will also be able to enjoy a wide variety of activity resources, from virtual tours of Scotland, to language lessons, and from history talks to music concerts from their armchairs.

“I have loved the Oomph programme; it has opened my eyes to a whole new world of ideas. Exercise sessions have been great, and the storytelling aspect has really helped to motivate my residents living with dementia. I have enjoyed the opportunity to get to know other homes and network and share ideas. I have taken a lot from this and will be thinking outside the box in future.”

Activities Coordinator, Hunters Care Centre


The site boasts interactive quizzes, activity ideas, an interactive activity calendar and much more. Care home staff and residents will be able to select activities according to their desired wellbeing goal or personal interests.

“Our partnership with Oomph provides a whole host of excellent resources to enhance a varied and responsive Life Enrichment programme that we offer to our residents and patients every day at Barchester. Along with our own virtual events programme, the Oomph on Demand platform gives all teams within our care settings the additional tools to provide bespoke activities and enjoyable experiences which are tailored to the individual interests of our residents and patients. Through the use of the platform, we will continue to provide everyone in both our care homes and hospitals the best possible person-centred care.”

Lucy Tomlinson, Resident Experience Manager, Barchester Healthcare


“Oomph! is delighted to be working in partnership with Barchester Healthcare, with our Oomph! On Demand platform. Covering a full range of engaging activity ideas, exercise inspiration and training tools all in one easy to navigate platform, Oomph! On Demand provides a whole world of wellbeing resources and support, for every resident whenever they need it. Oomph will work closely with Barchester Healthcare to ensure we are constantly aligning with their existing life enrichment programme and providing meaningful engagement across every home.”

Ben Allen, Chief Executive, Oomph Wellness



About Oomph

Oomph! is the UK’s leading wellbeing business for older adults, to enhance mental, physical and emotional wellbeing. Through innovative exercise and activity solutions, Oomph! drive to positively change the impact of ageing with a clear proposition of a ‘Full Life for Life’. Whatever your passion, interest and physical ability their team of dedicated experts work with you to enjoy life… you have one life, so let’s give it some Oomph!

About Barchester Healthcare

Barchester Healthcare is one of the UK’s largest care providers supporting older people living independent lives with dignity and respect. Providing a wide range of services for a variety of needs, Barchester Healthcare supports over 12,000 residents across 248 homes and hospitals for short breaks to long term stays.

A leading care provider over the last 25 years, Barchester services include residential care and nursing care tailored to the individual. Barchester also provide expert dementia care. Many Barchester homes feature a Memory Lane Community, which is a dedicated part of the home designed to support residents who are living with various stages of Alzheimer’s or dementia, to stay as independent and active as possible. Barchester also have dedicated services that provide specialist care for those who require neuro rehabilitation, as well as care for those with Parkinson’s or Huntington’s disease. Barchester have six independent mental health hospitals that offer functional and organic mental health services.

Barchester’s CEO, Dr Pete Calveley, has been named RoSPA’s Influencer of the Year 2021 in recognition of his pioneering work in leading the call for mandatory vaccination for all care home staff which has resulted in a change in the law. Barchester Healthcare is also proud to receive a RoSPA Health and Safety Award for the seventh consecutive year for its contribution to occupational health and safety in the healthcare sector.

At Barchester, we celebrate life and make sure the people we support do too. Our teams of well-trained staff focus on the individual needs of each resident and are passionate about independence, dignity and choice for all residents in their care. We employ motivated, attentive staff, who are committed to a high standard of care. For more information on the wide range of career opportunities available at Barchester, visit www.barchestercareers.com

To find out more about Oomph! On Demand, please get in touch here.

New Oomph! Partnership Announced to Boost Care Sector Employee Wellbeing

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Challenges of the Covid-19 Pandemic have had a huge impact on the wellbeing of care sector employees, who have been on the front line of the crisis, working tirelessly in the face of challenges such as illness, shortages, and changing restrictions and guidelines.

In a brand new initiative to boost wellbeing of care sector employees, Oomph! is offering complimentary access to the InstructorLive exercise platform for care providers who are signed up to the Oomph! On Demand platform. This aims to help employees get fit, happy and healthy, and offers providers a perk to aid employee retention. 

Employee Health and Wellbeing

InstructorLive is an inclusive platform providing an extensive range of programmes in varying levels of ability, including HIIT, Aerobics and Yoga. Established in 2012 and accredited by the NHS, InstructorLive has a wide variety of on-demand workouts, motivational tips and nutritious recipes available.

With 800+ workouts and live, personalised support, they are committed to helping care sector teams feel amazing and reach fitness goals. With programmes as short as 10 minutes, there is something to suit all needs and fit exercise around shifts and into the busiest of schedules.

Care teams will also have access to a virtual InstructorLive community on Facebook that hosts weekly live classes with guest teachers as well as talks from industry professionals.

Driving Retention

Whilst also giving care sector teams the chance to set and achieve fitness goals, the initiative aims to increase staff retention in the sector. In 2021, Skills for Care found that many care providers reported that recruitment and retention is now more difficult than before the pandemic.

All care home, sheltered housing, retirement living, hospital and domiciliary care providers who are subscribed to Oomph! On Demand are able to offer the added benefit of InstructorLive exercise programmes to employees to look after their own health and wellbeing. This benefit enables employees to stay happy and healthy as the Covid-19 pandemic continues to affect both their working and personal lives, increasing job satisfaction.

Partnership for Residents

The Oomph! On Demand platform provides engaging exercise and activity content for care providers to use 365 days a year, across a diverse range of topics and meeting a range of interests and abilities.

Not only are care employees offered complimentary InstructorLive access as part of the partnership, but Oomph! On Demand is also hosting InstructorLive videos for residents, with a wide range of topics, including chair ballet, pilates for balance and a Beditation series. The fun videos have already proved a huge success, with residents regularly taking part in the sessions.


For more info, please get in contact here, find out more about Oomph! On Demand here or find out more about InstructorLive here.

Oomph!’s Care Home Olympics, Encouraging Healthy Competition Across The Care Sector

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Following the huge success of the 2020 Oomph! Olympics, from the 1st August to the 31st August, Oomph! is running another care home “Oomph! Olympics” and we’re looking for enthusiastic care homes across the UK to get involved in the competition.

What are the Oomph! Olympics?

The Oomph! Olympics is a special sports-based competition running throughout August and encouraging all care homes across the UK to get involved. The event – like the Olympics – will include a wide range of sports, with a different theme each week. The competition looks like this:

  • Kick Off and Opening Ceremony
  • Week 1: Swimming
  • Week 2: Gymnastics
  • Week 3: Court Games
  • Week 4: Beach Games
  • Judging and Closing Ceremony

For each theme, Oomph! will provide free resources, from activities and puzzles to quizzes, videos and more. The resources aim to be accessible to everyone from an ability and equipment perspective.

And yes, don’t worry – there will be prizes to be won!

Who can sign up?

Any care home can sign up and join the competition! To take part, every week they must submit a photo or video of residents and the wider community getting involved in the week’s theme. There will be 3 winners per week in the categories: Community spirit, Creativity, and Fun.

The games will be judged by an expert panel. However, even though this is a competition, above all we promote taking part and having fun!

How can I get involved?

If you’re a care home in the UK… You can sign up to take part using our form here. We will then send you free resources and updates throughout the competition!

If you’re anyone else… We’re looking to get this campaign heard far and wide to encourage exercise for older adults! Please help us by sharing this article, our social media posts and spreading the word.


If you want to get involved to help support this initiative or just find out more, please contact us at hello@oomph-wellness.org

For further information, please email hello@oomph-wellness.org, or visit www.oomph-wellness.org/on-demand

Oomph! On Demand Partners with Mindfulness Expert to “Find Your Calm”

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Mindfulness expert, Find Your Calm, is partnering up with Oomph! On Demand to provide a series of mindfulness & meditation videos that teach various calming techniques – from dealing with change and post-lockdown anxiety, to engaging the senses. Here’s a little bit about Find Your Calm from Founder, Heather…

I am a qualified mindfulness teacher with the UK College of Mindfulness Meditation. I first discovered mindfulness about 7 years ago. I was studying to be chartered accountant in a high pressured, stressful job and it really helped me through my exams and work related stress.

I have suffered from depression and anxiety from a child and had never really found anything that helped me to cope until I found mindfulness. I have been a changed person (ask my partner!), I am now able to cope with stress and anxiety, I enjoy life more and I have been able to discover what truly makes me happy. This is because mindfulness helps you to think more clearly and helps you to stop living your head.

I have discovered so many more benefits of mindfulness which include dealing with pain, better sleep, better focus and I have been helping others will illnesses such as fibromyalgia and heart conditions.

I want to share Mindfulness with others because it is something we all have within us and it can benefit so many people. Once you learn how to practice, you can incorporate it into your daily life with ease! Plus, the benefit is so much more than the effort you think you have to put in – once you learn the techniques, you will not see it as effort anymore… More like self-care for your wellbeing.

My plans for Find Your Calm include working more with care homes, educational establishments, charities and organisations. I also am working on combining mindfulness with art! In the future, I plan to set up a centre/retreat where people can come and experience mindfulness and other holistic healing techniques – there will be a vegan café at the centre where you can do some art, read some books and meet like-minded people!

I am really excited to be partnering with Oomph! to provide mindfulness sessions to care providers across the UK, especially at a time when people are finding more anxiety and depression in their lives. The series is designed specifically for those in care and targets key areas that are relevant for them!

For further information, please email hello@oomph-wellness.org, or visit www.oomph-wellness.org/on-demand