In a bid to address low levels of physical activity associated with later life, we piloted an initiative with older adults: sitting netball. As much as the title may seem a little different, this pilot created an environment that led to more active care home residents, smiling, laughing and having fun.
Sitting netball is a static, simpler version of the original game that takes place in residential care homes. Practising basic ball skills, residents take it in turns to shoot the ball into the hoop. The activity can be easily adjusted to meet the residents’ needs.
With data showing lower engagement with physical activity among older adults in London, our aim was to help more people from within this population segment to get active in care home environments. Often in grassroots sports development it is difficult to find affordable facilities, a suitable coach and an inactive population in the same place, but in care homes all three are apparent. They have free space, staff already delivering activities (Activity Coordinators) and a resident population that is likely to be inactive.
Following a small-scale pilot in Brent, for which London Sport won an England Netball Inclusion and Diversity Award, we sought opportunities to expand the project further. With the support of England Netball, Harrow Council and Barnet Council, we were backed to introduce sitting netball into 10 residential homes across Harrow and Barnet. Encouragingly, by the end of the 8 week sitting netball programme, 98% of residents were doing at least one physical activity session a week, compared with 62% at the start.