Last updated on April 16, 2014 at 1:21 EDT

University Researchers Study the Impact of Charity’s Healthy Ageing Programme

October 1, 2012

LONDON, October 2, 2012 /PRNewswire/ –

Aston University researchers are studying the effects of an award winning well-being
programme that has given a new lease of life to hundreds of older residents in the
Midlands and the North.

The ExtraCare Charitable Trust helps older people to live a healthier, active and more
independent lifestyle in its retirement villages and smaller housing developments.

Now the charity has teamed up with researchers from Aston University for a three-year
project which will look at the impact of its approach.

ExtraCare’s Well-being Programme is the first of its kind in the UK and is led by
dedicated Well-being Advisors, who are all qualified nurses. It is an example of how, with
the right information and support, older people can make real improvements in their

The programme provides residents with easy access to regular health screenings,
referring them to GPs and other health specialists where appropriate.

It also:

        - Encourages residents to have interests that support their independence.
        - Provides enriching opportunities for residents, including those who have
          difficulties with memory, concentration and reasoning.
        - Offers opportunities for volunteering and active engagement with others.
        - Promotes involvement in community activities and membership of interest

As part of the Well-being Programme, people have taken part in everything from hand
waxing and choir singing to activity-based dog training classes and all-day relays on
running machines.

Resident volunteers have also supported the programme, helping staff with blood
pressure readings, and height and weight measurements. One group of volunteers, including
a former clinical psychologist, supported fellow residents with dementia via regular
cognitive stimulation therapy activities.

Facilities for older people include fully-equipped health and fitness suites, village
halls, cafe bars and restaurants where people can meet.

The research being carried out by Aston Research Centre for Healthy Ageing (ARCHA)
will focus on the impact of the charity’s service on the longer term well-being of
residents and the associated care costs.

Senior Lecturer at ARCHA Dr Carol Holland said: “In these financially constrained
times there are real concerns that preventative measures to help people stay healthy will
be seen as a low priority. Yet it is vital to look at the value of illness prevention, not
just in terms of detecting problems early, but to support a person’s well-being and
quality of life.

“If the need for someone to go into hospital is reduced, it also reduces costs on a
hard-pressed NHS purse.”

A group of new ExtraCare residents are being invited to complete a questionnaire and
take part in health and memory tests before they move into their home. They will perform
these tasks again three, twelve and eighteen months later. Older people in the wider
community will also be invited to take part as a comparison group.

In addition to recording things like blood pressure scores or scores on a memory or
mobility assessment, the study will also look in depth at how physical health,
psychological health and people’s environment and opportunities all interact.

The research initiative coincides with the Department of Health’s recently published
white paper ‘Caring for our future’ which sets out the vision for a reformed care and
support system and focuses on people’s wellbeing and support to help them stay independent
for as long as possible.

ExtraCare operates 3,591 homes within 13 retirement villages and 17 smaller housing
developments. Their latest Village, Pannel Croft in Newtown, Birmingham, is due to open in

Nick Abbey, Chief Executive of the ExtraCare Charitable Trust, said: “We have known
for a long time that our well-being work has a positive impact on the lives of our
residents and the Charity’s significant investment in this work has been of great value.
ExtraCare’s Well-being Programme has won numerous national awards.

“Independent research will be helpful, not least because an external, professional
organisation may provide evidence that helps shape and support the future service and even
support applications for vital funding. We’re delighted that we are able to work with
Aston’s Research Centre, which has a strong reputation in this field.”

SOURCE The ExtraCare Charitable Trust

Source: PR Newswire