Care about physical activity – ‘with a big enough why you can overcome any how’

Written by: Laura Haggarty, Improvement Programme Advisor, Care About Physical Activity, Care Inspectorate

Published: 18/02/2020

Laura sheds a light on what ALLIANCE members Care Inspectorate are doing to help care providers increase physical activity.

Physical activity, or inactivity, is a serious issue affecting every generation in every setting and environment, from early years to older adults and everyone in between. It is complex and multifaceted while at the same time, very simple. Our bodies are designed to move, we feel good when we move, our health is better the more we move and to live as independently as possible for as long as possible, we know we need to keep moving. Yet, many don’t.

If you add in a health condition, requiring support to move or to live independently and the numbers deteriorate further. Perhaps it is not surprising that people living in care homes can spend 80-90% of their day seated or lying down with significant consequences physically, socially and psychologically.

In response to this, for almost three years, I have been privileged to be part of a national movement for change, the Care About Physical Activity (CAPA) Programme (this link will take you away from our website), run by Care Inspectorate. What started off as a massive task with many unknowns and a diverse team of perfect strangers from across the country has evolved into a life changing experience, for the team and everyone whose life has been touched by the programme.

Through the programme, we have:

From swimming and cycling to getting out of bed and making your own cuppa, it was all movement and it all mattered. We inspired and worked with over 1000 care staff to view physical activity differently, to prioritise it, to try ideas out, to start small and to start with what matters to the person. This led to significant improvements across the care sector focused on the environment, the community connections, mealtime experiences, personal care, activities, staff supervision and training, support plans, staff recruitment and induction, to name but a few.

But what now? As we look beyond the CAPA programme, beyond May 2020, what do we envisage? For me, it should be a way of life, for everyone. It is what people experiencing care expect and deserve and underpins much of the Health and Social Care Standards.

Every person experiencing care is individual, as are every service and partnership area. Our ‘moving more’ message was never ‘prescribed’; it was for individuals to do what works best for them, they are the experts in their own care and own settings and teams, not us. For us, this ensured sustainability. We supported people to get started, to really understand the why, gave them the knowledge and skills to apply improvement methodology and they put in the work, they see the impact and outcomes every day. For me, it is fundamental to living and fundamental to caring. I don’t see the end of CAPA, I see it evolving into a way of life.

‘With a big enough why you can overcome any how.’  This really resonates with me as it underpins CAPA; the why is so important and as soon as people truly understand this, they overcome so many very challenging and complex how’s. Please don’t ever forget the why.

For more information, resources and inspirational stories:

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