An online resource developed by the NCSEM-EM and Public Health England (PHE) to encourage physical activity in older adults was launched by Sport England’s National Strategic Lead for Health, Sarah Ruane, at the PHE annual conference this September.
The resource has been designed to provide information about the benefits of physical activity for older adults and in particular those who are beginning to experience a decline in their physical function, referred to as those who are ‘in transition’.
Older adults ‘in transition’ are those mainly over the age of 65 whose function is declining due to low levels of activity and too much sedentary time. They may have lost muscle strength and/or are overweight, but otherwise remain reasonably healthy. Gradually this loss in physical function will impact on their ability to maintain an independent life and perform daily activities.
This population group can make significant changes to their physical activity levels with the right help and support. They require accurate information about how much and what types of physical activity they should be doing. There is also a fear of falling with some older adults, so they may require encouragement and motivation from professionals.
PHE recognised the need for physical activity to be promoted by professionals in health and care settings as well as those in non-health and social care settings. The course has therefore been written specifically for professionals working across the wider public health agenda who have the opportunity to advise and support this group to become more active at different contact points.
PHE’s Older Adults team have worked with the NCSEM-EM to develop the e-learning resource as part of a suite of resources to support their work on Healthy Aging and to complement the Chief Medical Officer’s physical activity infographic.
The course covers:
- information about the guidelines on physical activity for older adults, and how they particularly apply to older adults in transition
- practical examples of the various ways in which older adults in transition can meet the recommended guidelines
- information on the risk of physical inactivity and the benefits of meeting the recommended guidelines
- practical tips on how to broker conversations with older adults in transition in every contact, across professional settings
- suggestions and signposts to tools on how to evaluate and monitor the impact of conversations with older adults
Nuzhat Ali, who leads the Older Adults team at PHE, said: “It has been great working with the NCSEM-EM on this project to develop an evidence-based learning tool that will support practitioners working with older people. I look forward to hearing from those who have used it about how it has helped them influence behaviour change and how we can continue to develop and improve the resource based on their feedback.”
The course is free to access – please apply for your unique username and password.