New gym for care home residents at pioneering Wrexham dementia centre

A dementia centre has become one of the first in the UK to open its own fully kitted out gym.

Residents and staff at Bodlondeb, in Wrexham, are working out and improving their physical fitness thanks to the new, state-of-the-art facilities.

The gym at Bodlondeb, part of the Pendine Park care organisation, was officially opened by Paula Jenkins, a Public Health Wales Workplace Health Advisor, based at Wrexham Maelor Hospital.

The gym started off with a few pieces of basic gym equipment being installed in a small room for the use of all those living and working at the centre.

However, the gym proved so popular, it was expanded with more keep-fit being added.

As a result, the gym has been relocated to a larger air-conditioned room meaning more residents than ever can benefit.

Paula Jenkins said: “I’m delighted the gym has developed here at Bodlondeb Dementia and Mental Health Care Centre. The idea is a great one and can only benefit both staff and residents.

“Everyone here at Bodlondeb is so focused and it’s great to see people taking both their physical and mental well-being so seriously.

“The gym room is an extension of the aims of the care home in providing the best possible facilities and opportunities for both residents and staff.”

Resident, Wendy Birkbeck, 64, has found the equipment so helpful she has already managed to ditch her Zimmer frame.

She said: “I had an accident 12 years ago and damaged my hips after a fall downstairs. I have lived here in Bodlondeb for the past four months and found the gym to be a brilliant idea.

“I’m now managing to walk just holding someone’s hand instead of using a Zimmer frame. That’s just by using the pedal machine a few times a week. I’m going to keep using the equipment on a regular basis.”

Fellow resident Gary Weir, 50, formerly of Caia Park, Wrexham says he too has found the gym equipment wonderful addition to Bodlondeb.

He said: “I use the rowing machine a lot which I like. I love it, love it. I like to exercise and keep fit. It’s superb and I row every Monday.I have lived here for eight weeks and will keep on using the gym.”

Bodlondeb Registered Manager, Ann Chapman,  revealed the idea of the gym came from the residents themselves through the home‘s Residents’ Steering Committee.

She said: “The motivation shown by our residents has been phenomenal. We have a panel made up of residents and it is something they specifically asked for.

“We started with a small room and a few bits of basic equipment but so many residents really took to the idea that we simply had to expand it.

“And we have now opened up our gym to residents of other Pendine Park care homes and units who are using it regularly too.”

“It is all about awakening people and giving them a life that we can access and take for granted. It means they are not as disadvantaged as they might have been and they respond very positively to that ethos.

“We have seen huge benefits all ready from people feeling physically better and therefore more active to some residents improving their general alertness. It is also helping a few people shed a few pounds too.

The gym has proved so popular a timetable has had to be introduced.

Ann added: “I think some of our  residents feel a real sense of achievement from working out in the gym and that release of energy has definite benefits, no doubt about it.

“It’s amazing when we show relatives videos of residents at work on the gym equipment or up dancing at a recent 70’s disco that residents themselves organised.

“They are very often amazed at just what their relatives can do given the opportunity. There are definite health benefits and the opportunity to set goals and achieve something. That is really important.”

And Ann says staff have been quick to get in on the act and are often to be found working-out alongside residents.

“We have worked closely with Paula Jenkins for a long while as we are working toward our Silver Workplace Health Award.

“She has been so enthusiastic about our health team and introduced some great health schemes for both staff and residents including a quit smoking scheme and weight loss and healthy eating ideas.

“There was no one better to open our new gym room and to see residents and staff benefiting from the equipment we have on hand.”

Care Practioner and Bodlondeb Tam Leader, Jigger Cortez, says using the gym is helping staff stay focussed and keep fit too.

He said: “Definitely, its good for staff as well as residents. And when residents see staff doing some exercise they are keen to have a go themselves.

“The gym has been a wonderful addition to the facilities here at Bodlondeb and think it will remain very popular indeed.”

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