Balhousie throws down fitness challenge to staff for residents

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One of Scotland's leading care home providers, Balhousie Care Group has built on the success of their ‘Together We're Great' initiative by challenging staff to create fun and inclusive daily exercise routines for residents.

Each of the group's 24 care homes has dedicated Dementia Ambassadors who meet once every two months to share ideas, knowledge and best practice about dementia care and the care homes they work in.

Previously, the team came up with the idea of creating unique ‘rummage boxes' for residents based on their interests, hobbies and life stories. By working with the families of residents the staff could include physical objects that helped trigger memories from their past.

Speaking of the positive impact the competition had within Balhousie Care Group, Balhousie's Dementia Consultant Yvonne Manson commented:

"After the success of our memory box competition and the benefits this had for residents we wanted to keep the momentum going. For the beginning of 2017, we have embraced the ‘New Year, New Me' theme with an exercise competition. Daily exercise has been shown to improve mood, mental health and self-esteem, and reduces the risk of falls in the elderly by developing better strength and balance.

Our Ambassadors discussed the competition at their November and January meetings and fed back some ideas to inspire the staff teams and residents, who responded with enthusiasm to develop their own daily exercise programmes. We invited Edith Macintosh from the Care Inspectorate to deliver a training session to further support staff. Edith has done substantial work around exercise and it was good to see how engaged the staff were."

"I enjoyed the training and found the information very beneficial, I can now look at residents' wellness and movement with fresh eyes," commented staff member Gail Melville.

Yvonne continues:

"We'll shortly be choosing a winning care home from the submitted entries. Programmes include chair exercise and games such as darts and balloon tennis. I have already started to receive pictures of some of the exercises being enjoyed by residents and it has been great to see how inclusive the programmes are. Staff are thinking of everyone's needs to encourage participation.

"Clement Park staff came up with an innovative idea to use wooden plant labels, and asked each resident to choose their favourite exercise. Each person has a wooden label, collected in a jar which the residents have decorated. The daily exercise is picked every day from the resident's choices, how much more personalised can you get?

"This is exactly why we created the Dementia Strategy at Balhousie Care Group and it shows how our new ‘Together We're Great' initiative is working, with residents and staff coming together to create something special."