National Wellbeing plan piloted at Millbrook Village sees pensioners walk twice as far as average Briton

A new national wellbeing plan for older people has been launched at Millbrook Village later living community in Exeter which has seen residents clock up more than 7 million steps in the space of just six weeks. Inspired Villages, the later living developer and operator behind Millbrook Village, has joined forces with three high profile wellness organisations to boost the health and wellbeing of its residents. It has partnered with ukactive, hero and Oomph! to dramatically improve the physical, social and mental wellbeing of its residents around the UK.

The new initiative has also seen a ‘Wellbeing Navigator’ recruited at Millbrook Village to assist residents with their health goals. The scheme has been piloted at Millbrook Village before it is rolled out across Inspired’s six other retirement villages in the UK.

According to a report by ukactive, a total of £7.67 billion of NHS and healthcare savings could be achieved if one third of inactive over-55s were supported to be physically active over the next 10 years.[1] Inspired’s new wellbeing programme aims to tackle this fact and is designed around the needs, wants and issues facing its communities which were sourced via a digital ‘wellness survey’ of Inspired Villages’ residents carried out by hero.[2] The initiative uses physical activity to improve the overall quality of life for residents by helping to reduce loneliness and isolation too, which are recognised by the government as growing challenges.

Over the space of six weeks, 30 residents at Millbrook Village  used Fitbits to clock up an average of 8,109 steps a day. This is more than double that of the average Briton, which stands at 3,000-4,000 steps a day.[3] Together, the participants achieved a combined distance of over 3,500 miles, which is the equivalent of walking to Toronto.

Nigel and Pauline Epps are among Millbrook’s residents who have been wearing Fitbits as part of the scheme. Nigel said: “The initiative has transformed our approach to mobility and subsequently improved our quality of life. We’ve both averaged more than 10,000 steps a day.”

Fellow Millbrook residents Veronica and George Pert have also benefited. Veronica said: “Thanks to this great scheme introduced by Inspired Villages, there’s no doubt we’re doing more exercise because we’re being measured and can compete against each other, which is a huge driver and the hero platform meant we could compete and compare – motivating us to do more.”

Millbrook Village offers 164 properties in an idyllic position on the upper banks of the River Exe and close to Exeter city centre. The village comprises a mixture of two and three bedroom cottages and two and three bedroom apartments that are all finished to the highest standard, with spacious rooms, stylish fixtures and fittings, and a private terrace or balcony. 

The community at Millbrook Village offers a wealth of social activities and resident-run clubs and has a central clubhouse with a range of health and leisure facilities within walking distance of all of the homes.  Springbok Hall boasts country club-style amenities including a restaurant, bar, gym, swimming pool, library, snooker room and activity rooms as well as a cinema and a medical centre with a visiting doctor. A range of health and fitness classes are held in the clubhouse including Pilates, water aerobics, Zumba, Tai Chi and meditation classes. Residents can also make use of a range of services provided by visiting health professionals including physiotherapy, massage, reflexology, spa and beauty treatments.

As part of the scheme pilot, a new role has been created at Millbrook Village, that of Wellbeing Navigator. Leah Jackson has been hired to inspire and engage the residents at Millbrook Village to be more physically active and to connect them with employees who can support them. Leah works with the residents to help them achieve their health and fitness goals, designing bespoke programmes for them and organising a range of seminars at the village on health topics with tips and advice for residents.

Jamie Bunce, Director of Inspired Villages, said: “Health and wellbeing are embedded in our culture, which is why we’re committed to helping our residents to live happy, healthy and active lives. It’s wonderful to see that this latest initiative has improved the quality of their lives.”

Joe Gaunt, hero’s Founder and CEO commented on this project: “It’s great to see Inspired Villages taking the lead and proactively managing wellness in this innovative way. Our role has been to encourage and educate residents in a bid to proactively manage all aspects of health and wellness.  We’ve also provided support to the busy schedule of community events such as nutrition-led cookery classes and group fitness sessions. It’s an incredibly exciting project and the results really do speak for themselves. Using the hero platform enabled this trial to be about more than just activity but also promoting connected communities, enhancing wellness and mindfulness.”

Not-for-profit health body ukactive is providing independent research and evaluation to demonstrate how the trial influences changes in the health and wellbeing of the Inspired residents over the course of a year. CEO of ukactive, Steven Ward, said: “Increasing our daily physical activity at any stage of life can have a huge impact on our health and happiness. This is an incredibly exciting collaboration with Inspired Villages and could help to change the way we look at later life.”

Oomph!, the UK’s leading wellbeing business for older adults, will also be supporting the scheme by providing exercise classes, creative activities and days out for Inspired Villages’ residents.[4]

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