HOW YOU CAN HELP
The ‘Together’ programme is aimed at supporting people living with dementia and/or other long-term health conditions and their carers, by providing suitable opportunities to tackle social isolation as well as take part in light physical activity.
The programme originally started at Hadleigh Pool and Leisure, working with Hadleigh Dementia Alliance, and the group there now meets every Tuesday.
The programme adapted during the recent pandemic to offer online classes and since returning to sessions at the centre, the numbers are better than ever with several trips to local places of interest planned as well.
In addition to the weekly Together sessions, we have a license to offer ‘Sporting Memories’ sessions across our portfolio and we currently have one running weekly at Kingfisher Leisure centre in Sudbury and another The Mildenhall Hub.
The Sporting Memories network of clubs has been running for over ten years across the UK, using the power of remembering and talking about sport, along with physical exercise, to tackle dementia, depression and loneliness.
Both initiatives are aimed at reducing the burden of social care from the NHS as well as improving the lives of our community and increasing levels of physical activity.
Our sessions are designed to:-
- Tackle lonliness and social isolation
- Increase physical activity levels
- Provide a sense of achievement
- Offer opportunties to volunteer
Reduce the burden on NHS
IMPROVE QUALITY OF LIFE
In the news
The ‘Together During Lockdown’ programme includes a mix of gentle, physical activity sessions such as chair-based exercise and strength and balance,
Abbeycroft Leisure’s ‘Together Tuesday’ scooped the prestigious ‘Healthy Communities Award’ at the recent UK Active Sports Awards in Manchester.
Some of our Together group and Sporting Memories clients tell us their reasons for attending and their experiences of the programmes.
I have some together tuesday stories but still need to gather a couple from Sporting Mems
Daniella pictured exercising at home on an online class.
Daniella was referred to the Pulmonary Exercise Class with Kim in May 2021 after contracting Covid in April 2020.
She was admitted onto a Covid ward at West Suffolk Hospital in April 2020 and was discharged in May 2020. She was diagnosed with Long Covid and has damage to her lungs, eyes and heart.
She was then referred to the Respiratory Physio Team where she completed a respiratory course, and they referred her to the Pulmonary Class online with Kim at Abbeycroft.
“I have been attending the classes ever since every Friday and it has been a god send. I have gone from a person who couldn’t walk down the end of the road without stopping every few steps gasping for breath, feeling like a 90 year old instead of a 45 year old, to being able to walk a couple of miles, still having to stop but not feel like I’m going to have a heart attack or gasping for breath.
The exercises have helped so much with my muscle fatigue as well as helping me to breath correctly when exercising and doing normal everyday things that most people take for granted.
The fact that it is online, for me, is wonderful as I don’t drive and I need to pace myself now that I have Long Covid. Having to walk over half an hour to my nearest gym would exhaust me before I have even started the class.
Kim makes the classes so enjoyable as she is friendly and caring and I look forward to seeing her every Friday. The other members of the class are lovely and it is nice to have the social aspect as well which is great for our mental health. If I didn’t have this class online every week I don’t know where I would be in my recovery today.
I don’t know how long I will be like this and I have good days and bad days still, but without this class helping me with my recovery get better and strengthening me I think I would be in a lot worse shape physically and mentally today.”
Valerie Ballard pictured on a trip to Banham Zoo with her friend Bob.
Valerie and her husband moved to Market Weston, near Bury St Edmunds 40 years ago and loved Suffolk.
Sadly, her husband suffered a brain haemorrhage resulting in him becoming totally disabled and brain damaged and Valerie nursed him for 20 years before he passed away in 2012.
Up until the age of 75, Valerie had been relatively fit and healthy and quite mobile, tending to the garden and going to various activity classes with a friend.
Then in 2017 she became unwell and was diagnosed with Bronchiectasis and COPD and was referred to the Pulmonary care team who arranged for her to do an initial 12-week course at West Suffolk Hospital.
“The classes were twice weekly and we were first visited for blood pressure and blood oxygen levels by the pulmonary nurse, then again at the end of the course. We were given four coloured bands which gave different muscle strength needed. It consisted partly of educational matters to do with lung disease and partly exercise, building up from one minute for each exercise then up to two minutes and by the last week three minutes for each. When I was tested, I had more stamina by the end of the period and was able to do more reps of each exercise.
Once this course was complete, thankfully the nurses made it possible for me to join Kim Parr’s class online. She guides us through the same set of exercises but for a three-minute session with each exercise. I have now built up to using the green band gradually over the length of the course. We started with one hour per week on a Wednesday, and then Kim offered us a second hour on a Friday as she had space in the class.
“If anyone is in any doubt about the benefits of these sessions the results showed a big improvement for me. For one thing I would not do these exercises on my own at home. I have certainly over the time been able to walk a little further without stopping for breath. Being in a group is more encouraging than trying to do the exercises alone at home and with it being online I don’t have to drive to a destination, we are in our own homes with access to drinks and no worry about getting Covid infections which might happen in a group in an enclosed space. We have a cheerful group and Kim is an excellent leader.”
I’ve made new friends online and we have a good old laugh.”
Valerie has lost all her confidence since the pandemic, and finds she is fearful of going out – even to the shops.
“Like many elderly people, I still watch the news and I think the media have frightened so many people into becoming lonely and isolated.”
I’ve recently had a second hip replacement and I’ve been signed off by the surgeon so I have two new hips and I can still do the exercises with my two new hips and my breathing is better – but my family all live in other parts of the UK, too far away to help on a daily basis, so I have to do a lot of things for myself, which I don’t mind at all, but it would be nice to not be so worried about going out.”
Lesley Langslow (right of picture)
Lesley Langslow (pictured right above) with her friend Valerie
Lesley started coming to Abbeycroft’s Wellbeing Hub at Brandon leisure centre in January 2022 after being referred by her GP – because she has an A1 enzyme missing, a condition a bit like like COPD. This means she’s unable to get rid of toxins and it attacks her lungs. She is on medication for life. She was also diagnosed with asthma 4 years ago.
She was fortunate to be eligible for 24-weeks of the Active Living programme and now pays for her membership herself, as she didn’t want to stop.
Before she started coming to Abbeycroft, she had some days where she almost couldn’t function at all – and then other days would be better.
“I was quite worried about joining the programme because I felt I might fail as a result of my poor breathing, but I shouldn’t have worried because you’re never put under any pressure and the instructors like Toby are so knowledgable and just put you completely at ease.”
“I’m stronger now, more flexible, more mobile and confident since doing the programme and my friends have told me they’ve seen a difference.”
“The Hub is a fantastic facility – and prior to this programme I would have never considered going to a gym, but now I start off in the Hub and then finish my workout in the larger gym.”
“I love the social side of it as well – the group is lovely and we have a coffee and cake afterwards and it’s all very friendly.”
Lesley now aims to attend 2-3 times week and would encourage anyone to give it a go.
VALERIE ANDERSON (left of picture)
Valerie Anderson (pictured left above) with her friend Lesley.
Valerie was referred to Abbeycroft’s Brandon Leisure Centre from Newmarket Hospital’s physiotherapist team, because of knee cartilage damage.
“I was made most welcome at my first visit and I was given a tour of the Wellness Hub and the main gym.
Initially I had 12 weeks of 2 sessions per week in the Wellness Hub and then progressed into the main gym doing leg exercises with weights. After the 12 weeks – I continued using both the Hub and the main gym and my knee problems are now very much improved.
My experience with Abbeycroft has been so positive, the instructors are very knowledgable and help you with whatever condition you have and I would highly recommend it.
I have also met some lovely people, like Lesley and we enjoy chatting with a coffee after the sessions.
I plan on continuing using the facilities to keep mobile and to benefit my overall fitness.”
Initially she completed an NHS course through West Suffolk Hospital at Haverhill Leisure Centre before she was recommended onto the Active Living programme and the Pulmonary Rehab classes for 26 weeks.
“I used to get breathless the second I exerted myself and things like changing the bed sheets or vacuuming were just awful, but these everyday things are now so much easier for me, not because my condition has disappeared, but because I know how to breathe better.”
“I’m able to do more, for longer and I don’t get so fatigued which is so beneficial.”
“Coming to the leisure centre is also a nice social thing for me, it gets me out of the house as I live alone, but I do have 3 surviving children and 5 grandchildren.”
“I’ve surprised myself how much I enjoy being part of this small group, because to be honest, I don’t like big groups of people and I did feel quite uncomfortable at first, but the leisure centre is such a part of my life now, that as well as going to the classes – I also go the gym, so I’m there about 4 times a week.”
“I can’t praise the staff enough – Will our instructor makes it such a personal experience and he puts us all at ease, plus he’s clearly well qualified and experienced. The atmosphere is very friendly but Will is always a true professional.”
OUR Active Living partneRS
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HOW YOU CAN HELP
To continue with this much-needed programme, we need additional funding, to be able to offer more classes for more people with more long-term health conditions.
The programme has already achieved positive outcomes, in terms of client’s mental and physical wellbeing, however, we can do more.
Please get in touch if you think you can help – or share this page with someone who may be able to.