How to improve exercise and activity in care homes

The integration of exercise programmes into a care home’s recreation programme doesn’t need to be a complex process either. With simple record keeping and care planning, care homes can get their residents dancing, jumping, playing and laughing together in no time.

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It doesn’t matter what our age is, exercise and physical activities are very beneficial for our overall health and wellbeing. This is no different for those living in care homes. Getting the opportunity to participate in some form of exercise or physical activity should be seen as a major priority within care homes. It can be both beneficial for the physical welfare of a resident, as well as for mental health and stimulation. Exercise can be a key contributor to the overall quality of life for residents in care homes.

The integration of exercise programmes into a care home’s recreation programme doesn’t need to be a complex process either. With simple record keeping and care planning, care homes can get their residents dancing, jumping, playing and laughing together in no time.

Benefits of exercise for care home residents

Exercise and activities in care homes present a wealth of benefits for resident wellbeing, including:

  • Functional fitness:
    Exercises that strengthen and support key movements can help improve mobility. This can empower residents as it may make certain daily activities a little easier. Care home residents who are inactive or sedentary for long periods of time, can rapidly lose muscle mass and strength, making daily tasks such as walking, more challenging. Falls can often be a common problem for the elderly, so strengthening core muscles in the legs can be vital to help keep them more stable.
  • Social engagement: 
    Group exercise or activities can be a fantastic way to get residents to have fun, laughing and enjoying the company of others. Loneliness is often regarded as one of the biggest challenges facing the elderly, so group activities that encourage residents to engage with each other can have a significant impact on the overall quality of life.
  • Mental stimulation:
    Exercise and activities can not only help with physical wellbeing, but also help with mental stimulation and mental wellbeing. Activities that challenge residents and offer an enjoyable outlet can ensure care homes are providing an experience that keeps residents engaged and happy. Exercise is seen to have a positive effect on mood, mental health and self-esteem.
  • Health management:
    For many residents living in care homes, they are required to manage and balance chronic health conditions, such as diabetes or hypertension. Physical activity can be vital at helping ensure such conditions are managed effectively.
  • Fun:
    Exercise isn’t just about health and fitness, and it can also be a lot of fun for residents. Having these types of activities scheduled in for residents can ensure they have something to look forward to that day and elevate their mood.
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Getting started with exercise in care homes

Care homes can start to implement basic exercise care programmes without the need for it to become a huge task. Utilising electronic care records is an example of how the exercise sessions can be integrated into an extended patient resident care package.

By recording and monitoring exercise and physical activity using care home software, staff are able to see how residents’ health and wellbeing changes with the involvement in such activities. By recording this, care homes can share this data quickly and conveniently with other specialists and health providers. This can help create a more dynamic health care system that leverages digital technology to communicate key details about residents to help improve overall care.

If GPs can see a resident is starting to join in with exercise programmes and performing basic movements, they may be inclined to arrange physiotherapy sessions earlier than planned. This type of seamless communication between primary and specialist heath care is a big part of how we can create a more personalised and effective health system.

It’s also the type of information and data that families and loved ones are likely to enjoy seeing.

To get started with exercise ideas for care homes, simply breaking up the day with quick and simple physical activities is a great place to start. This could be short walks in the care home garden, or exercise routines on a chair. Care homes can also encourage patients to walk to dinner, instead of getting wheelchaired, for example. These slight variations in daily activities can help create a foundation to work from. Basic stretching exercises can be simple but have a profound impact on patient stiffness and range of movement.

Group exercise sessions often offer the biggest impact for residents, so scheduling in time where residents will join a class can be very worthwhile. Depending on specific circumstances, someone from the care home could lead a class, or the care home could bring in a dedicated personal trainer.

Those leading any exercise or physical activity sessions should always be fully qualified and trained for such sessions.

Care home management

From monitoring and reporting on resident exercise, to having quick access to resident health records, the management and storage of useful information in care homes is vital. Care home software offers practical solutions that save carers time by reducing a lot of the admin tasks.

The quick access to this data also means care homes are able to communicate key bits of information regarding a resident to other health providers fast and effectively. Being able to analyse what physical activities a patient has done over the past year may help a GP or specialist make more informed decisions about future care regimes.

The more data that is recorded, such as exercise and general wellbeing, the more it can be a positive move towards care that becomes more personalised and person-centred.

If you’d like to learn more about how a care home could integrate care home software into their internal processes, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with our friendly team on 0330 056 3333. Here at CareDocs, we specialise in helping care homes become more efficient through the use of electronic care records and management.

Originally published on March 7, 2018
Article updated on August 2, 2021

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