Older people in care homes across Scotland are set to benefit from a programme to boost physical activity.

Research has shown that in some cases older people in care can spend nearly 80% of their day sitting which can have a serious impact on physical and mental health.

The Scottish Government and the Care Inspectorate have today announced a £1m drive to help develop and spread work to increase levels of physical activity in older people in Scotland across the care sector.

This will be done through an improvement programme which will provide training and development to staff in care services in different areas in Scotland.
Local learning events will be run and the programme team will offer support to care services to help increase levels of physical activity in the older people they care for. Care staff will have the opportunity to share good practice with one another, develop their skills and learn about ways to keep physically active themselves in order to live well.

The Care Inspectorate has well established relationships with partner organisations and care services and available intelligence which will help to shape the programme to include services that have the most potential to improve.

It was launched today at The Abbeyfield Perth Society’s Viewlands House Care Home.

Scotland’s minister for Public Health and Sport, Aileen Campbell said: “We are delighted to be supporting the expansion of this successful programme with almost £1 million of new funding which will help care services in areas across Scotland make a vital difference to the lives of older people.

“We know that being active has a hugely positive effect on both our physical and mental wellbeing, and that doesn’t diminish with age.”

Paul Edie, the Chair of the Care Inspectorate added: “As Scotland’s social care scrutiny and improvement body, we have a duty to ensure that everyone who uses a care service receives good quality care which meets their needs and respects their choices and rights.

“Some people in care just need a little help to keep active, and that often means taking part in something as simple as helping to prepare a meal or going for a short walk.

“We know being supported to take part in everyday activities that many people take for granted, but which can become more difficult as we get older, can have a tremendously positive effect on people’s quality of life and their experience of care.

“When people are supported to take part in activities of their own choosing, it makes a difference.

“The majority of the services we regulate perform well. Encouraging and supporting people who use care services to remain active or become more active is one of the ways we can all ensure that standards of care across Scotland continue to improve.”

In Scotland there are 866 care homes for older people, approximately 2,500 care at home/housing support services, and many other support services for adults.

Developing and spreading work to improve physical activity participation in these care services through the proposed improvement programme supports the Scottish Government’s 2020 vision of maintaining people in their own home or in a homely environment, prevention of ill health and admission to hospital and supporting self management.

Almost 110,000 people work in care homes, care at home and housing support services. This is a regulated workforce regularly engaged in professional development. There is therefore significant opportunity to ensure these staff become more confident about the roles they can play in supporting physical activity.

Research published in 2014, (Barber (2014) Journal Aging Physical Activity), showed that older people in nursing care spend 79% of their time sitting, 14% in low activity, 6% light activity and 1% moderate activity