The training programme was delivered by Dr John Kelly (pictured right with Geraldine Gilpin, Chief Executive, Abbeyfield UK (NI)), who is an Education and Learning Consultant, and founder of Fingerprint Learning Ltd.
Dr Kelly outlines why he developed the “BrainFit Plan” and the evidence which supports this approach:
“Dementia is a global looming epidemic among over 60s. In 2009, 750,000 in the UK were diagnosed with dementia, by 2025 it is anticipated that this figure will rise to 1million in the UK.
“Retirement should be a time for enjoying the fruits of a lifetime of work. Unfortunately people are robbed of a fulfilling retirement by not knowing how to care for their brains as well as their bodies. Mental decline is not inevitable if we keep our brains 'fit for life'.
“Our brains have been designed for learning – when the brain is learning that is what it’s supposed to be doing. However, at the age of 60 plus, there is minimum new learning, in comparison with the levels of new learning that take place in childhood and youth. The new learning we do at this earlier stage of life is a great stimulus to the brain's development. It is when the brain is learning that it keeps developing. This is why we need to challenge or exercise our brains more in retirement to keep them fit for all of our lives."
Dr Kelly continues: “To facilitate this process I developed the “BrainFit Plan”. The Plan assesses how an individual prefers to learn and matches the way he/she learns to learning activities that are personally enjoyable.
“Each individual creates their own personal action plan. Activities that challenge the brain could be anything from baking, crocheting, learning computer skills, studying a new language, and jigsaws, right through to letter writing, learning poetry, keeping a personal journal, joining an art class, reading, crosswords, volunteering in a charity, gardening, joining a choir or learning a new musical instrument. The list is endless. Once you have the plan, you just need to put it into action.”
Geraldine Gilpin, Chief Executive of Abbeyfield UK (NI), outlines the importance of staff engaging with training of this nature and how such insight can have a positive influence on the lives of their residents:
“Dementia is an issue which can affect some individuals as they get older. Last year, as part of Abbeyfield's commitment to catering for the diverse range of residents’ needs and delivering high standards, we initiated staff training in best practice in dementia care. This has allowed staff to recognise at an early stage symptoms associated with dementia.
“To support the ongoing development of our staff and to further increase their understanding of dementia, we conducted research around preventative steps that can be taken to reduce the impact of the condition. It was during this process that we came across the “BrainFit Plan”. We strongly believe that working with our residents to develop their individual plans and helping them to identify activities that they will enjoy will undoubtedly further enhance their overall wellbeing.”
Mary McFadden, House Manager at Abbeyfield House in Greenisland, outlines the benefits of the training:
“Finding out more about the “BrainFit Plan” has been really beneficial. We already provide a range of activities for residents to engage with, but this special programme has emphasised how more personalised, bespoke hobbies and past-times for each individual resident can be utilised or incorporated into daily routine to help provide regular mental challenges.”
Abbeyfield will be rolling out the “BrainFit Plan” in all 18 of the Abbeyfield Houses operating in Northern Ireland.
- Abbeyfield is a charity providing supported sheltered housing for older people in comfortable, family-style accommodation for seven to ten residents.
- Abbeyfield UK (NI) was voted one of the UK’s best sheltered housing schemes last year. The organisation scooped the silver award in the “Best UK Retirement Housing Scheme (under 30 units)” category at the 2011 National Housing for Older People Awards. Run by the Elderly Accommodation Counsel (EAC), the awards recognise specialist housing schemes which are the best in their field.
- For further information on Abbeyfield please contact Abbeyfield’s Head Office on 028 9036 5081, email email@example.com or log onto www.abbeyfieldni.org
- For further information on the “BrainFit Plan” log on to www.brainfitplan.com
- For all media enquiries please contact Janet McKay, PR Consultant on 07968 817514 or email firstname.lastname@example.org