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. 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.
For almost three years, I have been privileged to be part of a national movement for change, the Care About Physical Activity (CAPA) Programme, run by the 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. From Abe (https://youtu.be/31Y7CfYGuOI) whose life was transformed and given real meaning and purpose, through positive risk taking and doing things that mattered to him to May and Greg who found true friendship and touched many hearts with their story (http://www.capa.scot/?p=1612) from intergenerational practice. We shared stories of whole home approaches with residents chopping veg for soup and carers supporting a love of knitting (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=-CZyIS6qp5w&list=PLbGUgyQIJfFgVo7-kzCQwh0CymSlevbtr&index=17&t=2s) to home carers supporting people in their own homes to move more, resulting in less pain, less risk and a better quality of life (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=mZf-kXLDUVs&list=PLbGUgyQIJfFgVo7-kzCQwh0CymSlevbtr&index=31). From swimming and cycling to sitting 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 (www.capa.scot).
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. Because 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 ensures 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. That is sustainable. 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; it’s how things are done and it’s the right thing to do.
‘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, check out www.capa.scot @CAPAprogramme on Facebook and Twitter. @laurahaggarty5