Age UK Norwich Case Study

Supporting activities for older adults with Age UK Norwich

At Age UK Norwich, one of their strategic objectives is Prevention. This means helping older people remain independent for as long as possible.

The older person’s charity aims to help older people live healthy and well. They provide services to adults 50+ in the Norwich area to help reduce loneliness and isolation, too. We know that being active helps to keep us healthy and well both physically and mentally. For this reason, living an active lifestyle is a key route to helping the charity meet its goals.

We have worked in partnership with Age UK Norwich for many years. Using our expertise in physical activity, we identified opportunities to work with the charity to improve older people’s health and wellbeing. Through advocacy work, training opportunities, and building partnerships, we have worked to integrate physical activity into the services Age UK Norwich provides.

The onset of the pandemic resulted in older people and vulnerable adults isolating for over 14 months. According to a report, 1 in 5 older people are unable to walk as far as they could before the pandemic. Alongside this, 1 in 3 have lost confidence in their abilities.

We supported Age UK Norwich to provide services that aim to change that. We provided advice and support to help the charity improve its physical activity offer. In turn, this has helped more older people in Norwich benefit from being physically active.

The Aim

According to Norfolk Insight, there are approximately 411k older people aged 50+ in the county. Norwich also has high incidence of residents living with loneliness and isolation.

We know many older people aren’t as active as they could be. This could be due to many factors, including the impacts of lockdown but also a lack of awareness around what support is available.

Older man exercising

Age UK Norwich delivers community activities that create opportunities for physical exercise whilst promoting social interactions.

They sought our help to increase awareness of their services during the pandemic. This was important to reach more older adults whose physical activity levels had declined.

We addressed these issues through funding, guidance and advice on the services they provide for older people in Norwich.

The Challenges

The main challenge was in reaching the most vulnerable in the community, including those who were shielding. This was important to be able to understand their needs and to able to evaluate the service provided.

There were also financial challenges involved in delivering some of the planned projects such as the COVID Recovery service. Age UK Norwich also required support to gather statistical data for the area to demonstrate the need for funding.

An overview of our work with Age UK Norwich

We worked with Age UK Norwich to overcome certain challenges, and provided continuous support and guidance to help them achieve their goals.

Promotion and Networking

Firstly, through our website and promotional channels we helped to promote their community groups. Through networking and community events, and creating partnerships, the charity was able to grow its networks which has led to the development of new community groups. An example of this is the Dance to Health falls prevention programme.

We were able to support the older persons charity in delivering community activities for individuals aged 50+ as part of their [email protected] service.

In addition, we provided valuable insight and data which enabled crucial access to funding.

Funding to upskill staff

Our funding meant the charity was able to upskill their staff to be able to deliver a Level 2 chair based exercise that is now being used for their [email protected] service.

We also provided funding to upskill a number of their staff with a Level 3 exercise referral course. This means that Age UK Norwich community support workers now have the knowledge and tools to support older people coming out of hospital and recovering from surgery to be active as part of their recovery programme. This will help to break the cycle of hospital readmissions and provide extra support for the NHS.

In addition, we provided funding so they could continue to offer their Activity Befriending service. This trains a volunteer to support an older person in re-engaging with their community. Through this service, older people are able to go for walks or attend a physical activity group in their community. Having the reassurance of someone present when starting back up with physical activity can be the difference between remaining inactive or adopting a healthier lifestyle.

Supporting COVID recovery

Additionally, we provided funding which enabled Age UK Norwich to provide 1:1 tailored exercise to older people who have specifically been impacted by COVID through their [email protected] service.

We will continue to work with the charity now to evaluate the community and COVID recovery service to understand the physical and mental impact of COVID on the individuals taking part.

Our work with Active Norfolk has helped us shape both our traditional and innovative services. Upskilling our staff has created more opportunities for us as an organisation and improved the quality of service on offer to clients.

We are thankful to Active Norfolk for their patience, openness and readiness to support & promote us across their network. It has certainly been a pleasure working with them. Through the funding received to upskill our staff, more vulnerable older people will have access to tailored support, with the potential of attaining sustainable funding in the future.

Age UK Norwich, 2021

Outcomes of our work with Age UK Norwich

  • In funding the [email protected] service, we have supported Age UK Norwich to provide services to 18 older people since January 2021. There is currently a waiting list of clients eager to sign up.
  • Each participant receives between 6 – 12 weeks of 1-2-1 support. Age UK Norwich aims to support 50 older people through this service by the end of January 2022. The COVID Recovery service will support a further 30 older people who have been directly affected by the pandemic.
  • Age UK Norwich’s Activity Befriending service creates 10 new relationships each month. Over the course of the project it aims to support over 150 older people to build confidence and activity levels. Their community groups have signed up 200+ older people who will be attending groups as they reopen.
  • During the pandemic (June 2020 – June 2021), Age UK Norwich recorded 800 virtual attendances to physical activity sessions.

What’s next?

Age UK Norwich have begun conversations with GP surgeries and CCG on the impact of the [email protected] service. They are also working with the Norwich Institute of Health Aging on potentially funding a pilot scheme targeted at chosen surgeries whose patients will engage with the service. The Institute will conduct a thorough evaluation of the pilot which will inform the potential for a wider offer across Norwich.

Their Activity Befriending & Community Activities/Events services are being knitted together to offer a holistic approach to support for older people. Clients will be able to map out a progressive journey through their services such as moving from a 1:1 staff supported exercise, to volunteer supported visits and finally, becoming independent & socially connected individuals.

We will continue to work together to identify and represent the needs of older people, and work collaboratively with other organisations to access funding opportunities to deliver innovative solutions in order to combat issues.

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