The Totnes Wellbeing Fund offers grants up to £500 to help new initiatives that could really enhance personal, community and environmental wellbeing locally. Earlier this year, Zest Physiotherapy secured a grant to run a pilot project of ‘Functional Fitness MOT Events for Older Adults’. Founder Pauline Virgo explains how the funding helps people plan for ‘active ageing’.

Blog by Pauline Virgo, Founder and Lead Physiotherapist, Zest Physiotherapy for Life

I am an independent physiotherapist specialising in working with older people. Through my work I know how important active ageing is for wellbeing, maintaining independence and reducing the risk of falls and injuries. However, I often find people are not aware of the chief medical officer’s guidelines for activity for older adults, or where to find help.

Securing grant funding from the Totnes Wellbeing Fund at the beginning of the year, enabled me to run a pilot project of ‘Functional Fitness MOT Events for Older Adults’. These events took place in Totnes and Dartington over a six week period in May and June 2016 and were free for over 60s.

The funds from the Totnes Wellbeing Fund were used to purchase testing equipment, hire community venues in easily accessible locations, for promotional material and printing participant workbooks.

Participants who attended the events worked with physiotherapy students from Plymouth University to complete an assessment of fitness components necessary for active ageing. Together, they then created an active ageing action plan, based on their strengths, weaknesses and motivations and were signposted to activities in the local area which would help them achieve their goals.

Goals varied from person to person, for example, some participants wanted to be able to maintain their independence with activities such as getting dressed; for others it was important to be able to get on and off the floor to play with grandchildren. We were able to help them address the components of fitness that would help them with these goals, such as flexibility, balance and strength and to build this into their action plan.

The events were really enjoyable and immediate feedback from participants was very positive. They enjoyed finding out about their own strengths and weaknesses. Some reported feeling reassured to learn they were achieving good levels of fitness while others reported feeling motivated to engage with their action plan.

Follow up activity will involve finding out how participants are getting on with their action plans. Anecdotally, local activity instructors and club leaders who supported the event have reported new members following the MOT events.

The events were also a really great learning opportunity for the physiotherapy students from Plymouth University who were able to put into practise their theoretical learning of active ageing and motivation and to meet some very inspiring local people who were able to share their secrets of active ageing with the students.

Thanks to the funding from the Totnes Wellbeing Fund and the success of our pilot project, we are now in the process of sourcing research funding to allow us to run another series of events next year to gather data regarding the impact of the events. This will help to continue raising awareness of active ageing and its importance in maintaining a healthy lifestyle in later life.

If you have a fantastic idea that could really benefit the Totnes community and would like some seed funding to get started, don’t delay! We are taking applications until 16th December 2016. Find out how to apply here.