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By Debbie le Quesne

Wheels turn for charity as Skills for Care seek high-flyers

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You’ve heard the expression “on yer bike” and that’s just what residents and staff are doing in a Newcastle care home.

But they are not taking to the highways – just to the fitness room where they are trying to clock up some 1000 miles on exercise bikes. I love it.

The image breaks the stereotype, and indeed surprises some of us that those who need specialist care could do this kind of challenge.

The sporting participants from Pembroke Lodge will cycle the distance of the famous John O’Groats to Lands End trek in a bid to raise funds for the Cystic Fibrosis Trust and their own residents’ fund.

Reported in the online magazine Care Industry News, home manager, Joanne Bailey says: “Introducing an exercise bike was originally intended to encourage residents and staff to enjoy some light exercise.

“One of our carers mother’s is affected by Cystic Fibrosis, so we wanted to raise some money to show our support to her and the charity that helps her. We also rely on the residents’ fund for activities for the residents, which is why we are halving the funds raised between the two [causes].

But what I find interesting is how the residents have suddenly become competitive, with each person wanting to beat one another in their sessions on the bike.

The finishing line is planned to be April 29 and the home has been pledged £300 in sponsorships already, with the aim to raise as much money as possible.

Pembroke Lodge specialises in mental disability care, including neurological conditions, and currently looks after of six residents. But I wonder what could be achieved by introducing more robust physical fitness programmes in our homes for the elderly for those who are more able? With funding care now in a nationally-recognised crisis it’s doubtful this could ever become a reality in most small homes.

These stories, however, inspire me and I hope the members of the West Midlands Care Association that I lead.

For the people at Pembroke Lodge: Go for it! The finish line is in sight.

Meanwhile, I hear that the National Skills Academy’s graduate management training scheme, set up in response to the need for a new pipeline of talent to inspire a new generation of social care leaders, is looking for new students.

For a time, funding for the fifth cohort of the scheme was in doubt. But a reduced numbers course is now on track. Applications for cohort five are now open and close on 28 May. To be successful, graduates need to be passionate about social care and keen to make a difference.

Each graduate will spend a year working with a host organisation.

See http://www.nsasocialcare.co.uk/programmes/graduate-scheme-internship-programme.

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