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Care Managers Show

29 - 30 NOVEMBER 2024 EXCEL, LONDON

18 Jun 2024

Guest blog: Mobility can change lives – Right in front of your eyes

Guest blog: Mobility can change lives – Right in front of your eyes
Amrit Dhaliwal, CEO of home care company Walfinch, reflects on how activity and mobility can change the lives of care clients, and also benefit team members.

One of our care clients was prone to balance problems, and only able to complete ten to fifteen steps unaided – so his family was stunned when he got up from his chair and walked upstairs. It was something he had been unable to do for years.

He'd had mobility problems since an accident when he was seven and a stroke in his 40s, but after his local Walfinch care team helped him to walk around his village on social calls and with physiotherapy exercises, he was able to walk up to 200 yards.

He is just one example of how activity and mobility can improve the lives of care clients.

While no-one should be pressuring clients to take part in physical activities, it's clear that remaining active and mobile can help people to avoid illness, aid recovery, and maintain mental and social wellbeing. That's why, at Walfinch, we are keen to encourage activity for our clients.

When we move, we’re stronger, according to research cited by Sport England, which states: “If movement were a medicine, we’d call it a miracle cure.” It explains that as we age, regular exercise reduces our risk of illness, from heart disease, stroke, colon and breast cancer to obesity and osteoporosis.

Leading an active lifestyle prevents 900,000 cases of diabetes and 93,000 cases of dementia annually, reduces anxiety, maintains muscle and bone strength, and slows the pace of mental decline. Altogether, active lifestyles are credited with 30 million fewer GP visits every year.

Who would not want this for their care clients – and their care team?

Social benefits

Going out to activity classes also boosts wellbeing for care clients, as they meet others engaged in the same activity. This brings more social interaction and can lead to new friendships, with benefits for mental health and wellbeing.

Practical challenges

In care homes, physical activity such as chair-based exercise is commonly offered to residents. This can be harder in home care – but there are ways round this.

Shilpi Verma, Managing Director and Registered Manager of the Walfinch home care service in Harrow and Brent, who has been doing yoga for 12 years, recruited her own yoga teacher to offer weekly yoga classes online, free of charge to clients, their families and carers.

It's seated yoga with an emphasis on breathing, stretching and relaxing, and clients have said that the deeper breathing has helped them to relax and feel less anxious.

One family member said: “Mum really looks forward to this every week.” Now 20% of Shilpi's clients are joining in, and next of kin and pregnant carers have got involved too.  

US studies have found that chair yoga has led to improvements in anxiety and may be beneficial in improving mobility and reducing fear of falling. Other studies have shown that yoga can help with stress, pain, fatigue, joint lubrication and balance.

Activity drives recovery

Mobility can mean more than physical exercise. Magdalena Chmielewska, Registered Manager at Walfinch Hammersmith and Kensington, expects her care team to actively improve clients' lives. “One client wanted to return to driving. We took her to a Driving Mobility centre, where experts provided a risk assessment and recommended a modified car and specialist equipment."

Now she is behind the wheel again, with a carer who can take over the driving if she feels too tired.

Fun for carers as well as clients

Activities can benefit the wellbeing of carers too. Our former Care Manager at Walfinch Oxford heard that one of their clients, aged over 90, used to be keen on golf. She helped to organise a day on the golf course for him – and it turned out to be a chance for her to learn a new skill too.

He said: “I hadn’t played for six years so I was a bit rusty at first, but it was great to be back swinging a club again."

The Care Manager said: “He taught me how to hold a golf club, and the first time we went was so much fun that we decided to go again – and both of us did better. He hit the ball over 150 yards and was over the moon. I managed 100 yards, so I’m improving!”

 


 

 

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