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Fernhill House’s activity programme helps improve wellbeing 
NHS advice on keeping healthy for over 65s is being embraced by Fernhill House.     

And the latest proof of the efficacy of an active lifestyle is the media stardom of its 94-year-old resident turned specialist activity adviser.    

Lifelong keep fit enthusiast Marian Hill, who enjoyed her fifteen minutes of fame on a recent BBC Hereford and Worcester broadcast about the home, recently became the oldest person in the country to join a team of staff to help run regular Seated Physical Activity sessions for her fellow residents.  

The sessions are aimed at enabling participants to become more physically active, maintain mobility and prolong independence and can make a real difference to their ability to perform everyday activities such as getting dressed, brushing their hair, lifting a cup or simply moving about.   

More vigorous activities are also on offer at Fernhill House – with the aim of enabling residents to have fun as well as keep fit. A weekly exercise class helps keep the brain as well as the body active, alternative treatments such as sound therapy and reiki provide mental and emotional relaxation, crafts fire the imagination and get the fingers moving and the brain is stimulated with quizzes and games.   

Fernhill House also has a sensory garden within its two acre grounds and grows plenty of wholesome veg – and residents are encouraged to help out with planting, harvesting and watering. An indoor potting shed helps keep brain and fingers nimble.   Recent weeks have seen musicians, celebrity speakers from Radio 4 and a small menagerie of animals visit the home.   

Numerous reports highlight the benefits of regular physical activity in older age, which can help maintain bone mass; improve sleep, balance, mental ability and circulation; strengthen muscles; reduce the risk of dementia; increase happiness; reduce aches and pains and help the participant live longer.   

The NHS Choices website gives detailed age appropriate advice on activities to maximise physical and mental wellbeing. 

“Evidence shows that there is a link between being physically active and good mental wellbeing. It can help people with mild depression, and evidence shows that it can also help protect people against anxiety. It is thought to cause chemical changes in the brain, which can help to positively change our mood. Some scientists think that being active can improve wellbeing because it brings about a sense of greater self-esteem, self-control and the ability to rise to a challenge,” it says.   

Over 65s who are generally fit and have no mobility limiting health conditions are advised by the NHS to do at least 150 minutes of moderate aerobic activity  such as cycling or walking every week or 75 minutes of vigorous aerobic activity, alongside strength exercises on two or more days a week which work all the major muscles  - legs, hips, back, abdomen, chest, shoulders and arms.        

Older people are also advised to break up long periods of sitting with light activity, as sedentary behaviour is now considered an independent risk factor for ill health.   Older adults at risk of falls are advised to do exercises to improve balance and co-ordination on at least two days a week. Examples include yoga, tai chi and dancing.  

Radio 4 police comic to share hilarious real-life tales with Fernhill residents
A former policeman, stand-up comedian and star of his own Radio 4 comedy show is poised to share hilarious tales of his life on the beat with residents of Fernhill House – with villagers welcome to join them too.   

Alfie Moore, whose fourth series of It’s a Fair Cop will be broadcast this spring, will deliver amusing insights of his 18 years as the long arm of the law on Wednesday January 31st at 6pm.   

Alfie is the latest of the home’s monthly celebrity speakers, with BBC sports journalist Garry Richardson, Archers star Graham Seed, aka Nigel Pargetter and novelist Gervase Phinn among recent attractions.   

Alfie was born on a Sheffield council estate, was an apprentice in the steelworks before joining the police, and has been a stand-up comic for ten years. His Radio 4 show sees him ask his audience to make policing decisions as he takes them through real-life crime scenarios.   

He has performed his own one-man show at the Edinburgh Fringe Festival and supported Sarah Millican, Russell Kane and Milton Jones on their national comedy tours. 
Residents and visitors will also be served complementary nibbles and refreshments courtesy of Fernhill House’s award-winning chef.   

Listen to one of Alfie’s Radio 4 shows here: Link to radio 4 show:   And you can read his top seven types of people who peeve the police here:   

To book a place at the free event and to find out about future talks, contact or call 01905 679300.

Community invited to animal, orchestral and sixties events 
Villagers from Fernhill Heath and the surrounding area are being invited to join residents of Fernhill House for a series of free, fun events in the New Year.   

The home is hosting a clutch of activities over the coming weeks and, as always, is keen to involve those from surrounding villages to help residents feel part of the wider community.   

Worcestershire photographer and travel enthusiast Ray Sturdy presents one of the popular travel and social history shows he tours around the county to raise money for Cancer Research UK on Friday January 5 at 2pm.   

He will be remembering the Swinging Sixties and taking a nostalgic look at events which shaped the lives at those living half a century ago.   

Ray explained: “Britain had new cars, motorways, new housing, a youth boom and petrol at 5/- (25p) per gallon. Pop music, The Beatles, Twiggy and Concorde arrived in a decade of change and revolution. There were scandals, a royal wedding, a walk and almost a nuclear war!”   

Teas, coffees and home-made cakes will be available during the talk.   The following week, Friday January 12 at 1pm, sees a visit from a menagerie thanks to animal handling experience company Zoolab.   

Residents and visitors will be encouraged to stroke, pet and hold spiders, reptiles and furry mammals.   

Home manager Peta Mandleberg explained: “We are firm believers at Fernhill House in the power of animal therapy. I often bring my two labradoodles in to visit the residents. Zoolab offers a rather different animal encounter. Holding a tarantula may not be as soothing as stroking a dog but it provides an interesting sensory experience and is certainly unusual! Animal-assisted therapy is recognised as an occupational therapy within psychology. Animals can bring people together, helping them see things with a different perspective and to cope in the most adverse of situations.”   

And for those in search of a bit of culture, a duo from the Worcestershire-based English Symphony Orchestra, aka the International Orchestra of Elgar Country, will perform on Thursday January 25th at 11am.   The orchestra is regarded as a major force in British musical life, has recorded a full-length opera (the world premiere of John Joubert’s Jane Eyre) and released recordings including Classic FM’s Disc of the Week. The Elgar Piano Quintet and the Sunday Times Essential New Release the Complete Piano Concertos of Ernst Krenek.

Is Alexa finally making the internet accessible for older people?
Technology has moved on in leaps and bounds over the past couple of decades, and the advent of high speed internet has opened up all sorts of new possibilities for learning, playing and staying in touch. However, new technology has always been thought of as something for younger people, and older people, who were not brought up with computers around them, have traditionally been stumped by many of these modern facilities.

But could recent advances in tech be about to change all that? We look at the impact voice activated technology could have on the older generation, and how things are looking for the future. 

Voice technology: The internet, without a PC 

The Amazon Echo and Dot are wireless speakers which are connected to the internet, allowing users to search the web and much more by communicating with its in built artificial intelligence, Alexa. These gadgets were two of the most popular Christmas presents in 2016, and are set to be equally popular during this festive season. 

Of course, Alexa is not the only voice assistant out there. Cortana from Microsoft and Siri from Apple have been around much longer, but it is Alexa who has harnessed the convenience of being always on, sitting in the lounge or kitchen, ready to answer all your questions. And, when it comes to integrating this technology with the ‘smart’ home, the possibilities are endless.

Ageing in place 

For older people who are still living independently, tech like Alexa can be hooked up to various items around the home, to make day to day living safer and more convenient. For example: 

· Alexa can connect to heating systems, to control the thermostat and switch heating on and off when people leave the house or arrive home. 
· It can be hooked up to lights too, to avoid lights being left on when rooms are not in use, or to give the impression someone is home when they are actually away visiting. 
· Alexa will organise shopping lists through voice activation, and can even order products from Amazon directly. 
· You can ask about the weather, hear the news headlines or can even play your favourite music. 
· As Alexa is voice activated, it could be used to summon help, for instance in the event of a fall. 

The possibilities for Alexa to help people who are ageing in place are phenomenal. From tackling loneliness to making life safer, it’s truly an exciting time for voice activated technology. Of course, these things need to be set up, and also require a permanent Wi-Fi connection, something that not all older people will be keen to become involved with, but in a willing household with tech savvy friends or relatives to help, elderly people could be more able to enjoy the benefits of the internet than ever before. 

The internet in the care environment 

At Fernhill House, the potential for Alexa and other voice operated technology is very exciting. Although we don’t yet have such facilities in place, we do have Wi-Fi throughout and plenty of willing care workers ready to help at any time. Many of our residents enjoy Skyping with their families, as well as using the internet, with our support, to find information and connect with other people. 

We also use technology such as Acoustic Monitoring to benefit the well-being of our residents. Acoustic Monitoring listens, non-intrusively, to residents while they’re sleeping and triggers an alert when the sound in a room exceeds set levels. This enables our care team to respond to residents in need of care. And because residents are not disturbed by in-room monitoring visits, they benefit from a better night’s sleep while enjoying greater privacy. 

We are excited to see how technology develops, and how it can be applied in our care setting to improve the lives of our residents.

Celebrating Christmas when your loved one is in a care home
If you have a loved one in a care home, Christmas may have seemed to lose a little of its sparkle. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Care homes offer plenty of opportunities to celebrate with your loved one, and to enjoy the festive season just the same as if they were still at home. 

Celebrating with your loved one 

Just because your loved one is in a care home, doesn’t mean you have to exclude them from your festive celebrations. Why not pop in and decorate their room, or bring them some Christmas cards from their friends and family to open and read with them? Aside of this, here are some top tips for making your visit and celebrations go well: 

· Play music and sing: Older people can get a great deal out of singing and listening to music, so bring along a CD or an iPod with speaker to play some of their favourite festive melodies. 

· Show them your photos: So many of us leave photographs languishing on our smartphones or PCs, never to see the light of day again. Print out a handful of photos from recent events, and let your loved one look through them to reminisce and catch up on all your news. 

· Favourite foods: The care home is likely to be loaded with treats over the festive period, but that doesn’t mean you can’t bring along some old favourites. From home made mince pies to their favourite fudge, a taste of home can bring comfort and joy to your loved one. 

· Get involved: Hopefully you’ve already got some familiar faces around the home, such as care workers or other residents and their families, so join in with activities to reinforce those connections. If you’re new to the home, this is a great time of year to make new friends and connect with people, which can be truly valuable in helping your loved one to feel included. 

· Don’t overdo things: As much as you want to enjoy this special time, it’s crucial not to overdo the festivities. Particularly people living with dementia can become overwhelmed if there’s too much going on, and even those who are not cognitively challenged will become tired if they try to do too much. Schedule some quiet time to let everyone recharge their batteries. 

Celebrating with older people in their care home setting doesn’t need to be anything less than magical. Talk to our team about how best to spend the festive season with your loved one, and make this Christmas just as special as all the others. 

Christmas at Fernhill House Our care team work hard in the run up to Christmas to get our residents involved in plenty of festive activities. From making decorations to buying and wrapping presents, we want to make Christmas just as fun in our home as it is at home, and to welcome family and friends to spend time with their loved ones. 

We like to get to know each individual person in an intimate way, particularly if they are suffering with cognitive impairment. Telling us about past Christmases, favourite foods or songs and other familiar situations can help us to tailor their Christmas experience to make it memorable. 

You are welcome to join us for a special meal on Christmas day, or at any other time over the festive period. In fact, our doors are always open, so whether you want to come for an hour or stay all day, we’ll ensure you can have a wonderful time with your loved one this year. We often have Christmas entertainment or other events taking place, so why not ask a member of staff if you’d like to join in with some of these activities. 

Of course, you don’t have to stay in the home, so if you’d like to take your loved one to a carol service, out for a meal or to your family home for the day, just talk to our care team to find out how we can help you. Christmas is a time for family, and whether you live nearby or far away, we want to help you and your loved one to celebrate in a way that meets all your needs.