A Yorkshire based care home group is helping residents to boost their physical and mental strength after launching a series of bespoke ‘lockdown proof’ exercise classes and programmes.
Czajka Care Group’s five nursing and care homes, which are based in Nab Wood, near Shipley and in Steeton and Cross Hills, between Skipton and Keighley are helping both its older residents, and its younger residents with disabilities, improve their mobility and wellbeing with regular exercise classes that include chair ‘aerobics’, stretching exercises, seated marches and catching and throwing games, alongside gentle resistance movements and musical motion activation.
Czajka Care Group’s managing director Konrad Czajka said: “When the first lockdown hit, a lot of our fitness and music classes, that are hosted by external specialists, had to stop. Our priority was keeping our residents safe, but unfortunately this did result in a reduction of structured exercise amongst our residents.”
A recent report from the National Care Forum (NCF) and the University of Leeds has also studied the effects of the pandemic on care home residents’ fitness and movement. It recommended that care homes employ exercise instructors who can train care staff and help them access online exercise programmes for older people. It stated that staff should take “creative approaches” to enhance levels of physical activity, motivate residents to maintain or increase their exercise, and encourage them to exercise alone if they are self-isolating.
Konrad added: “We understand what an important role exercise and movement plays in both the everyday life of older people and in assisting rehabilitation. We have therefore invested in specialist exercise equipment and trained our activity co-ordinators and care workers to take on the role of exercise coach.
“We have been proactive, learning new skills and ensuring that our residents are still able to get together at least once a week in a group setting to take part in exercise and movement classes. With an inclusive and welcoming approach, we ensure everyone feels comfortable and in control, gradually introducing exercises and making sure they are fun. By using soft, lightweight equipment, and also game play and music, our residents are always keen to take part.”
The family-run care company is reporting seeing an improvement in the mood and mobility of residents since re-starting regular group exercise classes.
Konrad said: “We use large lightweight balls and throw beanbags at targets and it’s great to see some competitive spirit! We have found that incorporating music and musical instruments that can be tapped and shaken, also adds to the enjoyment of the classes. Our residents are always keen to try something new, the resistance bands and light hand weights are very popular too.
“The pandemic has brought so many challenges and restrictions, but we were really keen to reinstate exercise classes as soon as it was possible. Mobility and wellbeing are key to maintaining a healthy lifestyle. The exercise classes also build residents’ confidence levels, and encourage them to take small, but important steps forward.
“Every resident is an individual with their own circumstances and requirements, and we adapt our classes so that they can use their own strengths to achieve the ultimate goal. Flexibility is key and this is something we build on gradually. Balance and co-ordination are also big focusses for the classes, and we are delighted to see so much enthusiasm and improvements amongst our residents.”
Czajka Care Group operates five nursing and care homes as well as offering a range of purpose-built retirement houses and apartments across West Yorkshire. These include Fairmount Nursing Home, Brookfield Care Home and Staveley Birk Leas Nursing Home, which are all in Nab Wood near Shipley, and Currergate Nursing Home in Steeton and Beanlands Nursing Home in Cross Hills. Staveley Birk Leas is a leading specialist home that cares for young people from the age of 18 through to 64, who have a variety of needs including amputees, people with brain injuries, Multiple Sclerosis (MS), Motor Neuron Disease, Huntington’s, Epilepsy and many other complex conditions.