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Show and tell: Time for a cuppa

Time for a Cuppa (1 – 8 March) is the perfect occasion to get together with friends and family over a cuppa and some cake. Every cake you bake, every cuppa you make and every pound you raise can make a huge difference to families facing dementia. Get Out Get Active is extremely proud of its impact on older people and those living with dementia. 

Sporting Memories sessionGet Out Get Active (GOGA) is making waves in supporting people to feel happier and healthier. Here, we share some of the programme’s useful learning, funded by Spirit of 2012. We do not want to keep the learning to ourselves – if we share it, we share the happiness too. That is why we have started Show and Tell.

Dementia is a global concern but it is most often seen in wealthier countries, where people are likely to live into very old age. The Alzheimer’s Society (2014) reports there are over 850,000 people living with dementia in the UK today. Of these, approximately, 42,000 are people with young onset dementia, which affects people under the age of 65. As a person’s age increases, so does the risk of them developing dementia. It is estimated that the number of people living with dementia in the UK by 2021 will rise to over one million. Rates of diagnosis are improving but many people with dementia are thought to still be undiagnosed.

Being active has numerous benefits for both our physical and mental health. An active lifestyle can have a significant impact on the wellbeing of people with dementia. GOGA is reaching disabled and non-disabled people across the UK in new and different ways. The beauty of the programme is the friendliness and fun involved in the activities. If you are involved, you’ll know the way it makes you feel. Results show it is having a positive impact on people’s lives. We are delighted to be rolling it out across the UK.

Here, our partners in Wandsworth explain how they started their Sporting Memories sessions across the borough.

The location:

The Roehampton team in London has excelled in getting more people active through their unique sporting memories sessions across the Wandsworth borough.

The story:

Enable Leisure and Culture is a charitable trust which delivers sport and leisure services across the London Borough of Wandsworth. The Trust launched GOGA in Roehampton, considered a deprived area, which has lower levels of physical activity than the London average and higher levels of crime and unemployment. The team felt that the GOGA funding could make the most impact in this area. They could provide opportunities for some of the most vulnerable people in their communities.

The Trust started with a Sporting Memories programme for isolated older people in Roehampton. They worked with Wandsworth Council Sheltered Housing Service and promoted the sessions using flyers, posters and the Sheltered housing officers. Most of the participants already used the club room for other activities so it was a very familiar venue and within easy walking distance from their homes.

The Sporting Memories activity lasts around two hours, and is a mixture of reminiscence therapy and gentle physical activity. Tea, coffee and cakes are available throughout the session and everyone is encouraged to talk and socialise with each other.

The numbers

The initial launch attracted a range of elderly people from the area. From a gentleman who was rock star in the 80s to a 5’1 retired female security guard! Each week there are around 10 - 12 people attending each session, and the age of participants ranges from 55- 80. The class is advertised for people aged over 55.

The recipe for success

Using resources provided by Sporting Memories UK and Fulham Football Foundation, the group discusses past sporting legends and reminisces about old memories. In between the discussions the participants take part in some gentle physical activity. This includes chair-based stretching, a basketball challenge and boccia. Often amazing stories come out of the sessions, and participants say they look forward to it all week. Some members of the group have forged very strong bonds, and even go on holiday together.

“Staff really value the experience of working with the older community, hearing their stories and having an insight to their lives is a valuable and rare chance for most people. Volunteers really enjoy the time spent with the group and get as much out of the session as the participants in terms of learning from their experiences and having insight into their lives.
“The participants feel heard as well as feeling as if they have a place in their community and a chance to share the best and worst parts of their lives through chatting about sports and related topics. The group have become really close and all consider themselves close friends.’’

Session Leader Lorraine added

Following our success with the first two sporting memories programmes, they intend to launch the programme in two more venues in the area. They will bring all the groups together once a month in a central community venue. From the first two blocks of sessions, they have learned the importance of the facilitator in delivering to elderly people, and creating a comfortable social atmosphere for all to participate in.

The participants

Participants attending the sessions really value the sessions. Feedback has been extremely positive and the residents value the opportunity to talk about old times and try sports that they have not taken part in for many years. They enjoy the social side of the session, getting out of the house and meeting other elderly people from the area.

 “Give it a try and you’ll like it! We all have a laugh and a chance to socialise.”

Mo, a regular participants

I live alone and through this I meet up with people, have a coffee and lots of fun – everything you want.

Participant, Steve

The future

Through the sessions we have seen an increase in residents’ social interaction and integration, higher levels of activity and fitness as well as improved mental wellbeing. So the sessions are there to stay!

The continued partnership with Fulham Football Foundation, Enable Leisure and Culture, Sporting Memories UK and the local volunteer support will ensure the sessions are sustained. This will allow older people in the community to take part in gentle physical activity, in an inclusive and social environment, supported by trained and knowledgeable staff and volunteers.

Top tips for setting up similar sessions:

Training from Sporting Memories before starting the sessions was given to the session leader Lorraine, which really helped at the beginning of the programme and is highly recommended.

GOGA’s Talk to Me Principles for older people gives appropriate and useful guidance for when setting up the programme and working with older people.

Consideration of the barriers and motivators older people face before setting up a session is key.

Some barriers included fear of leaving the house or a belief that the older person was unable to leave due to health or distance to travel. Plus the fear of not knowing anyone or looking silly. Some older people don’t believe that they can be active and when they think of activity they think of running around. Having an advocate with similar experiences but is getting out and being active can be really encouraging to someone who isn’t. 

The location of the session was chosen as it is familiar to the participants, not far to walk, and already used for social activities in the sheltered housing complex.

Minimal equipment is required to deliver effective and fun sessions, such as balloons, large dice, small hoop nets, balls, boccia set and new age curling set.

Refreshments and a chance to socialise are the strong and enticing messages when promoting the session to new participants.

Advert and poster placements for the sessions is most effective in the places where older people regularly go, e.g. local shops, social areas or directly to their houses.

Sessions often start with small numbers but don’t be disheartened. Word of mouth is a very important method of encouraging older people to take part!

Key learning and resources