Southern Cross Care CEO, Mr Andrew Larpent says: “If you are an older person, you have probably grown up with the idea the transition from middle age into “senior citizen” means slowing down. “Take it easy–you’re not as young as you used to be” is a common statement heard. And, when we think ‘gym’, we could be forgiven for conjuring images of very buff, toned and muscular people.”
However, contrary to this belief, Southern Cross Care has found the Health and Wellness Centres are a popular initiative among residents, with up to 50 per cent attending. They have also evolved into places for sharing, strengthening current relationships and building new ones, as well as users benefiting from the physical gains.
Southern Cross Care Director Operations, Jo Boylan, says they have seen extraordinary positive changes in residents, with a 54% reduction in fractures in the first year of the program.
Physical fitness underpins people’s ability to perform activities such as getting up out of a chair, walking or participating socially, and Ms Boylan says ‘we are all about keeping our people mobile so they can keep doing all the things they enjoy in life.’
The Health and Wellness Centres are led by a team of Southern Cross Care Lifestyle Coordinators who have each completed their Certificate III in Fitness through the Australian Institute of Fitness. They provide individualised fitness programs aimed at improving residents’ strength, fitness and general wellbeing. Each Centre is fitted with a range of specialised exercise and rehabilitation equipment including recumbent bikes, seated elliptical trainers, handheld and strap on weights, balance boards, parallel bars and chi balls.
Part of an organisation-wide focus on promoting quality of life for all residents through healthy ageing interventions that support their physical health, social relationships, psychological and spiritual wellbeing, it’s not just the residents who benefit. “Our health-for-all approach means that, not only residents, but staff as well can use the gyms, which gives them access to fitness facilities that they may not otherwise have, and which are free,” Ms Boylan adds.
The program has been so successful it was recognised at the recent Hesta Aged Care Awards with Southern Cross Care receiving the Outstanding Organisation Award.
So far the Wellness Centres have been installed in 13 of Southern Cross Care’s residential services with the latest, Onkaparinga Lodge, opening its doors last month.