A project to encourage people to become more active to reduce the risk of falls has been rolled out across North Yorkshire following a successful launch in Harrogate.
The programme, called Strong and Steady, was launched with a pilot earlier this year, targeting older people who are at risk of falling, which can lead to a loss of confidence, fear of falling again, loss of mobility, an increase in dependency, hypothermia, pressure-related injuries and infection.
The main aim is to increase physical activity among people aged 65 and over to reduce falls, but the classes are also expected to help to reduce loneliness and to improve mental wellbeing.
The project was given £300,000 over three years by North Yorkshire County Council’s public health team and Stronger Communities programme. It is delivered by North Yorkshire Sport and Age UK.
North Yorkshire Sport has now established 13 newly commissioned specialist classes across the county and is supporting providers to make existing community sessions more accessible.
The new sessions are in Settle, Northallerton, Thirsk, Harrogate town centre, Knaresborough, Ripon, Catterick, Leyburn, Malton, Filey, Scarborough town centre, Selby town centre and Sherburn in Elmet.
Sessions will also provide information about healthy eating, winter warmth, exercise and how to prevent falls. The programme will be a mix of newly commissioned specialist classes and improved access to existing sessions, with people able to move between the two depending on their circumstances. It will also support the establishment of new community sessions and will help attendees to take over and run sessions themselves with training and support.
County Councillor Caroline Dickinson, Executive Member for Public Health, said:
Falling can have far-reaching consequences, so it’s good news that the Strong and Steady programme is now being offered to people across North Yorkshire. Encouraging older people to be physically active has been shown to improve their independence and mental wellbeing as well as their physical health.
County Councillor David Chance, Executive Member for Stronger Communities, added:
One of the main aims of Stronger Communities is to support people in living independently in their own homes and communities for as long as possible. The work being done through Strong and Steady has been shown to improve people’s mobility and core strength, making them more able to take part in social activities, reducing the risk of loneliness and social isolation.
David Watson, CEO of North Yorkshire Sport, said:
This has been a great partnership with the County Council’s Stronger Communities programme, and following the success of the pilot class we are thrilled to be able to offer Strong and Steady sessions right across North Yorkshire. The positive benefits to attendees have been enormous, and we look forward to the classes helping many more people become more active, not only helping to reduce trips and falls, but also offering a wider range benefits to their daily lives.
The specialist classes were officially launched in April at a session at the Fairfax Community Centre in Harrogate.
Peter Smith, from Harrogate, who attends that class, said:
The difference from when I started to now has been tremendous, absolutely amazing! I wouldn’t have thought it was possible! When the coach told me I was going to be lying on the floor and getting back up again I said ‘you’ve got to be joking’ but now I’m doing press-ups. The coaches make you believe in yourself and I’m so much more confident now.
Another member of the class, Joyce Dinsdale, from Harrogate, said:
I was referred by my physio, who I see for MS. I used to struggle to walk in a line even for short distances and had no balance. Now I can do it much more easily, and have more confidence doing it.
Instructor Vicki Iwanuschak added:
The aim is really to help people to get back to being able to do what they did before or thought they couldn’t do anymore. So they can get back on with their lives.
People can be referred to classes by health professionals, including GPs, physios, specialists, or from existing clinics or classes. People can also refer themselves and will be helped to find the most appropriate class.
More information is available from North Yorkshire Sport on 01423 226303 or online at www.northyorkshiresport.co.uk/strong-and-steady