Researchers from the Department for Health are working with a local charity on new initiatives to help older people improve their health and wellbeing.
Golden Oldies was founded five years ago as an initiative to encourage isolated and lonely elderly members of the community to meet regularly as a singing group.
The charity now hosts 60 sessions a week across the South West and South Wales, with over 1,500 members and is aiming to become a national initiative.
Dr Stathi, along with PhD student Jolanthe De Koning, has developed a basic activity into the sessions, called the Active Song, which integrates simple exercises with singing. This means that the members not only benefit mentally and socially but they also benefit physically.
Dr Stathi, who is now a trustee of the charity, said: “People like to go to the Golden Oldies sessions because they are sociable and fun. It gives them a reason to get out of their homes and something to look forward to. But we saw that it was also an opportunity for them to do some basic exercises so we added in some movements that they could do while singing to help keep them mobile.”
The Active Song combines functional movements to help train leg and upper body muscles.
Dr Stathi said: “A lot of older people say that they have problems getting around and reaching things and these exercises help them to be able to perform everyday activities.”
The Active Song is now run in all of the Golden Oldies sessions and Dr Stathi hopes that in the future GPs will be able to refer patients to Golden Oldies.
She said: “Our partnership with Golden Oldies provides a great opportunity to carry out research examining the impact of the singing sessions on older people’s health and well-being.
“This evidence will be used to further develop the Golden Oldies sessions and help to improve the lives of our Goldies. It will also inform practitioners and policymakers concerned with formulating and implementing policies and programmes that utilise the promotion of physical activity to achieve health and wellbeing gains for lonely and isolated older people.”
The work of charity has been recognised in the National Lottery Awards 2012. Its schools inter-generational programme for the Jubilee, called Time after Time, is one of three UK finalists in the educational project category. This Lottery-funded programme bought together hundreds of elderly people with children in schools across the west with Jubilee themed projects which included the active song.