Success for all participants in alternative Olympic games

This story was published 16 November 2022

More than six hundred care home residents, relatives and staff members across North Yorkshire, along with those in supported accommodation, have taken part in a special alternative Olympics to help ensure good health.

A group of elderly people at an Olympic event

While some have picked up medals or a trophy for their efforts, the real winners are everyone who took part.

Because the purpose of the Post-Covid Inter-Care Home and Supported Living Olympics was to promote ‘re-conditioning’, or encouraging people to get active, with all the benefits exercise is known to generate, including reducing the risk of early death by 30 per cent.

Exercise is not only responsible for improving physical health, it can also improve self-esteem, mood, sleep quality and energy levels.

The games were organised by the York Place, Humber and North Yorkshire Health Care Partnership nursing team, who invited care providers to host their own events, competing against others for medals.

That invitation attracted widespread support, with teams from 31 different settings across the county taking up the challenge over a six-week period.

Categories were arranged to ensure the games were appealing to both younger and older adults, to maximise the benefits of increasing exercise across the age-span of those who receive support. That meant everyone could take part, including those unable to leave their beds.

One resident at Silver Birches care home in Filey, Mrs Winifred Sutton, took part in every event despite being aged 104, earning her a ‘biggest achievement’ award.

Activities suggested for organisers included walking races, balloon volleyball and chair basketball, designed to provide a range which all participants could enjoy.

In the Older Adults category, The Orchards, in Northallerton, was named as champions, with Kirkwood Hall, Leyburn, in second place and Abbey Lea, at Barlby, taking third.

For Younger Adults, first place went to Sherbutt Residential, with The Gravers second and The Botton Community with Ryedale MENCAP in third place.

Several other awards were also presented, with accolades going to Omega Oak Barn, Kirkbymoorside, for the biggest achievement by staff; Orchards at Northallerton for the most impressive Olympics display; United Response in York for the most creative event; Hilltop Hurricanes for the most creative activity; New Lodge home, York, for the hydration event, working to ensure residents consume enough fluids; and two winners shared the prize for best personalised care, Abbey Lea and Fulford nursing home.

Principal Nurse, Sarah Fiori, who is also Head of Quality Improvement for the North Yorkshire Health and Care Partnership, said: “We wanted to promote health and well-being in a fun way following what has been a dreadful couple of years.

“It is known those who get out of the habit of exercise are affected by ‘de-conditioning’ which can lead to health problems, but taking up exercise brings ‘re-conditioning’ and a marked increase in the chances of good health.

“Our message was simply ‘get up, get dressed, keep moving - your muscles, your strengths, your abilities: Use them or lose them.’

“People took notice and we hope the games will have lasting benefits through encouraging fun and physical activity of colleagues and service users."

Executive member for health and adult services, Cllr Michael Harrison, said: “This was a wonderful initiative and it is great to see it was well supported.

“The real success is that everyone who took part will have seen a benefit because we all know exercise is so important in maintaining both physical and mental health.

“I hope those who took part have now got the exercise bug and will use the games as a starting point to a healthier future.”