Oomph!: from care homes into the community
With £915k National Lottery Funding from Sport England, Oomph! aims to get 27,000 adults doing regular exercise within two years.
Oomph! Wellness, a social enterprise dedicated to enhancing the mental, physical and emotional wellbeing of older adults, has been announced as the largest delivery partner of Sport England’s £10m Active Ageing Fund.
The organisatiom pans to train around 1600 workers and volunteers in retirement villages and community venues to run adapted sports activities for older people.
Oomph! is prioritising online applications from venues in the North West of England and London and the South East before moving on to other regions.The organisation is best known for transforming exercise and activity provision in care homes, working with many of the biggest providers to put quality of life front and centre. It was established in 2011 by young entrepreneur Ben Allen.
Sport England has put tackling inactivity at the heart of its strategy and launched the Active Ageing fund to tackle inactivity in the over 55s. Mike Diaper, executive director at Sport England said being active was one of the most important things people can do to maintain health and wellbeing as they age.
“We’re delighted to be supporting Oomph! with National Lottery funding to help get older adults lead happier and healthier lives,” said Mr Diaper.
“We’ll be sharing learnings so successful approaches can be scaled-up or replicated across the country.”
Oomph!’s fun-first approach involves bringing elements of lesser-known sports including volleyball, weightlifting, boccia and urban orienteering to a huge audience with regular sessions being provided through housing associations, retirement villages and at public venues such as libraries and community centres.
Oomph! is working with the National Sports Governing Bodies for each of these four sports and in some cases drawing upon Paralympic Games versions of these sports.
The Housing Associations’ Charitable Trust (HACT) has advised Oomph! on how to reach as many housing association locations as possible. Barry Malki, HACT’s head of communities, said the organisation had been working with Oomph! on the project to help enable more older adults to be active in their own homes.
“We’re excited to see the initiative being scaled up with this funding, as housing providers are increasingly looking to support their residents to improve their health and wellbeing through alternative and innovative methods,” said Mr Malki.
To enable the project to achieve wide reach, Oomph! has secured the involvement of the County Sports Partnership Network, an England-wide group of organisations who are responsible for facilitating sports and activity at a local level. Inactive people over the age of 55 are a large and diverse group (roughly 6.4 million people) so age and community appropriate programmes will be tailored to each setting.
An anticipated 800 venue partners will use a bespoke app uploaded onto a tablet computer to enable Oomph! to report in real-time to Sport England and direct additional support to partners that are struggling to keep people on the programme. Oomph! chief executive Ben Allen said Oomph! was in the business of making exercise fun and delivering long-lasting behaviour change and improved wellbeing.
“In the last few years we’ve trained more than 2,000 care home staff to deliver over 60,000 Oomph! sessions,” said Mr Allen.
“We’re now excited to shake things up for older people in the community who struggle to find the motivation or available opportunities to stay strong. Our real-time stats will be a leap forward for the whole sector, enabling us to report on the numbers and frequency of participants and evaluate which approaches work best.”
All activities have been designed to be run by instructors with no prior experience and without specialist equipment. For example, the volleyball won’t require a regulation net and street orienteering will use the UK’s expansive network of post boxes as checkpoints.