Connecting older people back to sport – We caught up with Gloucester Charities Trust
In recent years, Sporting Memories has extended its offering to support older people across communities to reconnect through sport which benefit their mental and physical wellbeing.
A brilliant example of this is with the Gloucester Charities Trust (GCT), a Dementia-focused service that provides accommodation and support for older people living within the county of Gloucestershire. They have incorporated sporting themes and activities, thanks to the resources provided by Sporting Memories, that have allowed them to create stronger bonds with their members who have a passion for sport.
We caught up with Kerry-Ann Lees, Day Services Manager at the Gloucester Charities Trust, to explain the impact that Sporting Memories has had since they came to their attention. It was through the initial stages of the Covid-19 Pandemic, where Sporting Memories came to the attention of Kerry-Ann and her colleagues.
“We actually had to close during the lockdowns and we were not able to operate. When we did come back in, it was initially with social distancing measures in place, which was a strange thing to do in this type of environment when you’re close-up to supporting people every day. So, we tried to look for different things we could do to engage people.
“We found Sporting Memories through something that was shared by the local authority at the time that contained a number of digital resources, with the Sporting Pink was included within that. In my wisdom, I managed to download the Pinks, print them off and then actually laminate them, so we could clean them for everyone to use!
“We’re always looking for new ideas and I knew that the free Reminiscence Sporting Pink was coming to an end, but I knew Sporting Memories had other resources which we could use to keep that sporting theme going at our clubs, particularly for our members that enjoy sport, so I enquired about the packages they provide and we eventually managed to find the funding to get it set-up.”
Using the Sporting Memories resources
The Sporting Memories Care Home Package provides a range of activities and training for staff within care homes and other health and social care settings that are designed to help them engage older people regularly to support their physical and mental wellbeing. Kerry-Ann explained how the training gave the staff at GCT the confidence to bring sport into their activities with members.
“We’ve had over half our team go through the Sporting Memories training and that has been really useful for them because it gave us that reassurance by using the cards (Replay Cards) and the other prompts provided that we are doing the right activity with our members to engage them through reminiscence and physical activity too.
“We’ve used what we’ve learned from Sporting Memories to develop more sporting activities around other areas of our work. For example, we had access to some videos of old Wimbledon matches, so we decided to join up with our nursing home to have a Wimbledon-themed day, where we had balloon tennis to play, we had the matches playing on the screens and we also had Strawberries and Cream for everyone too. It was nice to bring sport into some other areas of our work.”
Impact of the Sporting Memories resources
The impact of using Sporting Memories resources provided as part of the Care Home Package have enabled Kerry-Ann and the team at GCT to overcome some of the challenges they face when integrating new members into their settings.
“In Gloucester, its naturally a big rugby community we have around us and we’ve had a lot of rugby players come through our doors. But we’ve also had people join us from other sports backgrounds as well.
“We recently had a former cricketer who is Muslim join us and we were aware there might be some cultural differences we’d have to manage. But the first Sporting Memories Replay Cards I bought, prior to signing up to the Care Home Package, were of international cricketers, and I did that in the hope it would allow us to build a connection to members, and in this instance it helped immensely with us developing a relationship with this individual.
“We’ve also had another new member join us who is non-verbal and as part of the on-boarding process we found out that they used to play tennis for the county. So, it was helpful to have the resources from Sporting Memories we could use to engage with them - plus they also joined during that week where we had the Wimbledon-themed day, so that helped with get them settled as well.”
Helping to make a comeback
Coming back from the brink of closing a couple of years ago, Kerry-Ann made it clear that the Sporting Memories resources and training have played a significant role in allowing the Trust to develop its offering to members whilst bringing understanding of how sport can be enjoyed by older people.
“We were closed for nearly two years, which was quite a big deal for us and we weren’t sure whether we’d make it back, so having the training from Sporting Memories and using the resources has really helped us to come back stronger and ensure we have the confidence to deliver the right things for our members that we know will be of benefit to them mentally and physically.”
“I think it’s also made me more tuned into what is going on from a sporting perspective, whereas before I may not have paid much attention to something happening locally with a sporting theme, now I’m like ‘right, how can we connect that to what we’re doing through Sporting Memories.’”