Four years ago I set up a social enterprise, Oomph! Wellness, to transform quality of life of older adults through provision of a new kind of exercise and activity programmes.
Since my first visit to a care home in Scarborough in 2011, Oomph! has grown into an award-winning, national organisation, supported by the Big Lottery Fund, Care England, National Care Forum and Nuffield Health amongst others. We provide innovative training and imaginative support to activity coordinators to stimulate residents’ mind, body and soul - particularly those with dementia.
Regular exercise and activity amongst older adults has been proven to strengthen heart, muscles and bones, manage symptoms of depression and dementia and improve mobility, mental stimulation and social interaction. Exercise, in particular is commonly recognised as one of the most powerful ways to help someone with dementia to live well with the condition. The Alzheimer’s Society point to three recent studies of aerobic exercise in people with Alzheimer's disease, vascular cognitive impairment and mild cognitive impairment that have shown highly positive results.
Oomph!’s simple goal therefore is to increase participation and engagement in exercise and activity, making them more personal, more meaningful, more fun in the short-term and more impactful in the long-term.
We have worked in over 1000 care settings nationally with hundreds of thousands of participants in our classes. The Oomph! movement is growing very rapidly and we expect to more than triple our size and impact across the UK this year.
98% of our participants say Oomph! makes them happy and 80% of the staff we train say our support has a significant impact on their personal job satisfaction. In a recent study we saw a 10% increase in self-reported quality of life amongst regular participants over three months.
We believe that providing activity staff with high quality training and support is the key to our success. This is not only the most cost-effective way for a home or group to deliver a quality programme, it’s also most likely to succeed: the people who live and work in the homes every day are by far the best placed to understand the particular needs, interests and abilities of residents.
Oomph! is very proud of having hundreds of testimonials from staff, managers, residents, family and friends whose lives are being changed through our work.
“These sessions are unlike anything I’ve seen before and people’s reaction has been wonderful. There’s so much singing, dancing and laughter - and that atmosphere remains long after the sessions have finished. I feel more able to get out and about and also have lots more flexibility and energy.“ Resident
“She has improved mentally and physically. Her general attitude is far more positive and she seems more alert generally.” Resident’s niece
“Some of our residents who would never have participated in a group like this are coming along and loving every minute of this. We have also seen a reduction in falls over the last few months from those who attend a few times per week and I definitely put this down to Oomph! and how much confidence residents have now gained. When I watch the joy it seems to bring them, it is amazing - even our nearly 106 year old is hooked on Oomph!” Care home manager