Physical Activity Project in Care Homes


This project helps the students to meet objectives for 2 of their HND modules where they work with special population groups and deliver activity sessions. Approximately fifteen students are involved in the project each year, which involves delivering a physical activity programme to older adults in Perth and Kinross Care Homes. The weekly programme had 3 elements which included seated exercise to music, teaching 14 Otago strength and balance exercises as well as fun adapted games.

The project is intergenerational as the students are working with older adults with each generation benefiting from the sessions.

Several stakeholders collaborated to ensure the success of this project. These included: Care Home staff, Care Home Residents, Perth College HND Fitness, Health and Exercise, Live Active Leisure (Perth and Kinross) and NHS Tayside. This collaboration led to an innovative approach to curriculum design and delivery which achieved successful outcomes for all stakeholders.


The project aimed to:

  • Increase physical activity levels for care home residents, teach strength and balance exercises to help improve fitness.
  • Help students complete modules on HND fitness, health and exercise course where they have to teach exercise to special population groups for 12 weeks.

For senior participants:

  • Help improve strength and balance, social interactions with younger people, fun session using games to promote team work and team spirit.
  • Improve confidence, well-being and physical activity levels.
  • Improved social life, self-esteem, communication skills.

For younger people:

  • Help meet objectives of HND course, improve confidence, employability and communication skills.
  • Creates new ways of working together and Interactions with different generation.
  • Promotes greater understanding and respect.


Care home residents at various homes throughout Perth and HND Fitness health and exercise students have taken part from Perth College

How many took part?
Varies each year. Some care homes have 5 residents taking part and some have 17 residents. Staff and family can also join in.

What were the age ranges?
Students aged 18 upwards, residents ages vary, some are over 100 years old.

How were they recruited?
The Falls Prevention Manager (NHS Tayside) helped to recruit care homes.

Activities/ events

The weekly programme had 3 elements which included seated exercise to music, teaching up to 14 Otago strength and balance exercises as well as fun adapted games.

The programme started in January for 12 weeks, the hope was that homes would continue the activities after the 12 weeks. Many homes invested in the games and some care home staff have been trained to do the strength and balance exercises.

In preparation some of the training delivered to students was delivered by college staff. Live Active Leisure staff delivered a balance and strength awareness day, as well as the Paths for all strength and balance course to the students. Last year, NHS Tayside’s Falls Prevention Manager delivered a falls prevention lecture and Generations Working Together visited the college to talk to the students about intergenerational practice and how their project fitted this approach.

The sessions were delivered by the students however care home staff were present at all times helping the students with the set up and safety during the sessions.

Benefits for the Community

Some care home staff decided to continue the physical activity exercises with their residents and have purchased the adapted sports games.
This project moving forward has huge scope to involve different curriculum areas, during the previous year computing students compiled a ‘Playlist for life’ project in one of the care homes which was another great intergenerational project. There are now plans in place for future projects across different curriculum areas in Perth College UHI to collaborate with NHS Tayside including the beauty therapy student going into the care homes starting in February 2017.

Benefits for the Younger People

Students have completed added value courses such as the strength and balance course and achieved vocational training certification. Several students have decided to continue volunteering; their employability has improved as there are growing job opportunities in this area. Many of the students who took part in this project last year have decided to continue their studies at Perth College (UHI) onto the BSc Sport and Fitness Degree year 3, several have indicated that they would like to work with older adults for their case studies at degree level. Staff and students have been invited to speak about the project at various national conferences including Generations Working Together.

The project opened our minds to working with this special population. Seeing the improvements in the residents mobility week by week was amazing – purely down to the students interventions.
“I loved getting to meet the residents of the care home and being able to build a working relationship with them…”
“Upon completion of the 12 week programme I continued going weekly…”

Benefits for the Older People

  • Some older adults improved results of functional fitness tests carried out;
  • Others stated it had improved confidence and that they had enjoyed working with the students each week;
  • Helped improve independence through increased strength and balance;
  • Improved social life, self-esteem, communication skills.

By the end of the programme some residents stated that they:
“Thoroughly enjoyed taking part”:
“Looked forward to a ‘wee bit of sport”;
“I feel my legs are more flexible and I get around easier”;
“Oh aye! Legs feel better. Not so much pain up my legs”;
“Sad that its ending, I was just getting used to taking part”;
“Changed the rest of my life”.


Perth College UHI purchased more of the adapted games required.
Live Active Leisure permitted students to borrow games, free of charge (Kurling, Boccia and Golf sets).
NHS Tayside’s Falls Prevention Manager provided funding to pay for the 2 training courses (Paths for All course & a Balance and Strength Awareness Day)

Sustainability/ Developments

As a result of this project, the College has developed other intergenerational activities including:

  • Playlist for all project – Perth College UHI computing students and Louise Brae Care home;
  • Approximately 40 HND Coaching and developing sport and HNC Fitness, health and exercise students going into care homes March-May 2017 to teach in groups. They will be doing 3 sessions of fun games with residents as part of the SQA module Inclusive sports provision.
  • Beauty therapy students going into care homes starting February 2017 to do beauty treatments (hand massage, manicures)


Questionnaires were given to the students, residents and care home staff at the end of the project.
Some of the residents did functional fitness tests at week 1 and week 12

What would be done differently in the future?

  • More equipment purchased for games;
  • More projects organised for other students to go into care homes (inclusive sports modules);
  • We have already changed some of the approaches from year 1: more training, more equipment purchased, greater range of games on offer, more training for students prior to starting intervention.


Students created own leaflets to be displayed in each home. Certificates for residents given at the end of the 12 weeks.

  • College courses require students to work with real life situations;
  • Students will gain real life work experience in a different context to what they are used to;
  • As frail older adults account for the highest health care costs nationwide increased physical activities can have a positive impact on this;

*Project will contribute towards helping increase physical activity levels for older adults (recommended 150 mins of moderate activity with 2 strength and balance sessions per week).

National Objectives

SMARTER – Expanding opportunities to succeed from nurture through to lifelong learning ensuring higher and more widely shared achievements.

HEALTHIER – helping people to sustain and improve their health, especially in disadvantaged communities, ensuring better, local and faster access to health care.

WEALTHIER & FAIRER – will support activities that address inequalities and enhance skills, employability and job opportunities. It builds on the characteristics of solidarity, cohesion and sustainability to ensure that all of Scotland has an opportunity to flourish.

This project contributes to the Scottish National Performance Framework (NPF).

Scottish NPF Outcomes

Our young people are successful learners, confident individuals, effective contributors and responsible citizens: To enable children, young people and (subsequently) adults to thrive from an early age, and make a positive contribution in the 21st century.

We live longer, healthier lives: Securing longer healthier lives for the people of Scotland will always be a top priority for governments and individuals alike. There are significant challenges which can only be addressed by everyone in Scotland working together, pursuing this goal through improving lifestyles and life circumstances, and a shared ownership of an effective NHS.

We have tackled the significant inequalities in Scottish society.