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Residents of Stourbrdge care home get into the swing of things with Tai-Chi classes

A care home in Stourbridge has transformed residents’ mobility and safety with the introduction of Tai Chi classes.

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(L) Gary Fowkes and (R) Leonard Passey practicing Tai-chi

Since the classes began in May, staff at Oriel Care Home, Hagley Road in Oldswinford have recorded a 50-per-cent reduction in falls as well as improvements in people’s confidence and sense of wellbeing.

Residents at Oriel Care Home take part in the classes

Tai Chi, a Chinese form of martial arts known for its slow, intentional movements and positive impact on health and wellbeing, was introduced into the home by activities co-ordinator, Gary Fowkes.

The 45-minute classes held at the home twice a week, were introduced to support the residents’ balance and movement. The classes also cover yoga, breathing and relaxation techniques.

Gary said: “Many of our residents struggle with their mobility and we know, as people get older, they are more likely to have falls and trips due to this.

“The gentle, yet effective practices of Tai Chi have had a positive impact on our residents’ strength and confidence in and out of the home.

“I used to work on the stroke unit at the Rowley Regis Hospital and the physiotherapists showed me how to support people with limited movement and how to help them improve their strength.”

“On a personal note, I got into Tai Chi at my local gym and I was amazed at the positive impact it had on my body and mind.

“I loved it so much that I decided to train in it so that I could introduce Tai Chi to the residents here at the home - I’m pleased to say, nearly all the residents come to the classes.”

Home manager, Kerry Turner said, “We closely manage the physical and mental wellbeing of all our residents. This involves individual care plans, which help to improve their quality of life through the right kind of daily exercise aimed at giving our residents as much independence as possible.

“As a community care home, we do our best to keep residents fit and well to reduce the number of visits to the GP and where possible, doing our bit to reduce pressure onto the NHS – particularly in the lead up to winter.”

Leonard Passey, aged 88, had fallen several times in the last few years due to poor balance. He is now a regular at the classes and said: “I definitely feel safer when I walk thanks to the classes – it has really helped me with my confidence.”

“I used to do Tai Chi before my wife become ill, so it’s really good that I can continue with it as the exercise really does help me day-to-day - I’ve even put in a request for a one-to-one class with Gary.”

(L) Gary Fowkes and (R) Leonard Passey practicing Tai-chi
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