An innovative Bridgend County Borough Council-led project aimed at getting older people to be more active is set to be showcased at a conference this week.

The Super-Agers scheme, co-ordinated by Andrew Thomas, the council’s group manager for prevention and wellbeing, has been developing a regional physical activity programme for adults aged 50+ to help them live healthy lifestyles while reducing pressure on support services.

In the early stages of the project, 239 older adults engaged in activities held at 12 locations, supported by 70 social care students from Bridgend College. In response to the outbreak of Covid-19 and subsequent lockdown restrictions, which meant groups could no longer meet in person, [email protected] methods were developed including resource packs, activity books and telephone mentoring.

Activity sessions are now back up and running outdoors and at Halo venues after risk assessments and safety mitigations were carried out.

One participant who is in her early-70s and is partially sighted was worried about getting bored during lockdown and wanted help to stay active. She was referred to Super-Agers which helped her to establish an exercise routine with weekly phone calls to check progress and provide support. They also assisted in helping her to apply for a guide dog to maintain independence and be a part of the community.

In her feedback, she said: “I feel like I have achieved a lot through this time and feel a lot more confident. I really looked forward to the calls each week, they brightened up my day and made me realise what I had achieved.”

Andrew has been backed by the Bevan Commission for the past year to test out the project and this week, he will present it to the Bevan Exemplar Showcase, which is being held virtually on 1-4 December.

Cabinet member for social services and early help Councillor Nicole Burnett said: “Congratulations to Andrew for having his work on this vital project recognised. Super-Agers is making a huge difference to the quality of life for local residents, including some with age-acquired disabilities and chronic conditions.

“Wales is expected to see a 27 per cent increase in the number of people aged 65 to 84 by 2039 and about 17-20 of those years will be spent in poor health so initiatives like this are going to be key in keeping older people active and allowing them to maintain their independence.”

Super-Agers has been delivered via a regional partnership across the Cwm Taf Morgannwg University Health Board area including Rhondda Cynon Taf and Merthyr Tydfil councils, Public Health Wales, Halo, Awen, BAVO, the Regional Carers Network and more. It was awarded a share of £5.4m from the Welsh Government’s Healthy and Active Fund.

Andrew will be presenting the project at the Bevan Exemplar Showcase on Wednesday, 2 December, at 9am-10.30am.

You can find out more about Super-Agers at the Bevan Commission website, where you can also get tickets for the conference.

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