There is a sizeable body of evidence which supports the effectiveness of complementary approaches in improving the health and well-being of older people. Tai chi, Yoga and the Alexander Technique have been shown to be particularly beneficial – and the Centre has, during the past few years included them in a number of successful short pilot programmes. The expansion of this work has been one of our primary strategic aims.
Our most important work to date with this age group has been our Positive Movement programme, which is now running in 24 venues all across Hertfordshire. Developed in 2015 with the help of funding from the Lottery, the programme combines techniques drawn from Adaptive Yoga and the Alexander Technique into an extremely effective, popular and fun session which has been shown to markedly enhance the health and wellbeing of participants. It is open to all older people who have either a mobility problem or who are living with a long-term health condition.
Positive Movement draws upon our past work over many years with older people – Pilot Project for Stevenage Residents, Falls and T’ai Chi and Positive Ageing.
Our other programmes for older people:
- The Rosehill Singers – a buoyant, uplifting, and friendship–forming weekly group of over 50 regular members meeting at the Centre with its own musical director
- Drop-in T’ai Chi – T’ai Chi is known to improve balance, strengthen leg muscles and prevent falls. This weekly class, a follow-on from our county-council-funded Falls Prevention Pilot (hyperlink), is popular and well attended.
- Silver Sunday – a national celebration of older people and their contribution to communities. Through a variety of free activities Silver Sunday at the Centre offered people over 65 a chance to keep active in body and spirit, to try new things, meet new people and build bridges to overcome loneliness and isolation.
- Restorative and Gentle Yoga classes have been part of the Centre’s regular weekly programme for many years, drawing people who are either living with long-term conditions or recovering from cancer or surgery.
PEOPLE LIVING WITH LONG-TERM CONDITIONS
We have for some years worked with the Parkinson’s Society to explore the usefulness of complementary approaches to health for people living with the condition. Following a major event in 2010 attended by over 100 people and their carers, we now run regular bi-weekly programmes for a small group of them
The Centre has for years been aware of the needs of carers and has developed programmes to meet some of those needs. Carers, by definition, care for others – frequently to the neglect of their own health and wellbeing. During the past few years NHS Herts, Carers in Bedfordshire, NHS Bedfordshire, Hertfordshire County Council and the Hertfordshire Community Foundation have provided us with financial support which has underpinned the development of innovative programmes for carers. Complementary therapies and group-based approaches have much to offer them – in helping reduce stress, promoting relaxation and in restoring depleted energy.
Special Group Session for Carers
• a weekly drop-in yoga class (followed by an opportunity for chatting over tea and biscuits)
Bedfordshire: this was held in January 2013 in partnership with Carers in Bedfordshire, NHS Bedfordshire and Shefford GP Surgery. A hugely successful event, it provided information on resources and financial assistance, alongside a range of demonstrations/taster sessions of one-to-one and group-based therapeutic approaches which can enhance wellbeing.
Hertfordshire: the largest ever to be held in the county, this took place in July 2013 with sponsorship from Hertfordshire County Council. It brought together more than 40 local organisations which currently provide information and support to carers and drew over 150 people in all. The Fayre was run in partnership with Crossroads Care Hertfordshire North and Carers in Herts, and was opened by Councillor Jane Gray, chair of NHDC and Roberta Meldrum, Director of the Centre. Click here for summary of evaluations.