‘Fit for Life’

Physiotherapy Wins Mental Welfare Commission for Scotland Award

I am delighted to share with you a video clip giving an insight into the Fit for Life group I have developed in partnership, that has enabled people living with dementia or a mental health condition to access exercise.

The group increases fitness, offers an opportunity for regular exercise, helping people to build self-confidence and encourage social participation. I knew the people I was working with were rarely using general exercise classes and “Fit for Life” bridges the gap between NHS and community services.

I love doing the group and to win the award in April 2015, for Person centered or recovery approaches to long-term care and support at the Mental Welfare Commission Mental Health and Learning Disability Awards was an absolute privilege and honour. I hope you enjoy watching our short video


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I would welcome any comments on the work and video clip and would welcome ideas from you on

“What do you do to keep fit?”

You can find out more about my work on the following links:

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IMG_0483-ConvertImageJackie Hodge

Mental Health Physiotherapist

I work in the Edinburgh Older Peoples Community Mental Health Team, focusing on supporting people with dementia, depression and anxiety to improve their mobility, balance, confidence and social interaction by working with individuals in their own homes or at the community-based Fit for Life programme.





2 thoughts on “‘Fit for Life’

  1. I found that very interesting. My husband’s dementia is more advanced than those on the video. I wonder how he would cope with something like this. I took my him to a falls clinic some time ago but we only lasted one session as he couldn’t process the instructions for the exercises. None of the others there had dementia. Would it work if there was a class for people with dementia and their carers? The carer focusing on helping the person understand the exercises and giving one to one support. I wish there was something like that available near us.

    • Thanks for your comments Izzy. I have had people with more advanced dementia attend Fit for Life and had good results – it obviously requires more support and input from staff or volunteers to guide/prompt the individual 1:1 during the session and I tend to use the same support person with the individual each week to ensure continuity and build a positive relationship throughout the programme. It is also important to remember that exercises can be simplified and modified for individuals and movements in Shibashi Tai Chi really don’t have to be followed precisely – it is all about moving the body and enjoying the feeling/enjoying the background music and being part of a group. It is also important to note that Fit for Life uses the same exercise format each week – it really is quite repetitive but I have found older people prefer that. Perhaps these factors may not always be picked up in main-stream exercise groups and makes moving people on to main-stream exerise groups quite a challenge at times. What does change in Fit for Life is that people progress at their own rate over the duration of the programme – in terms of using heavier weights, doing each exercise for longer or challenging their balance further, irrespective of their mental health condition.

      Running a specific class with carers supporting individuals would be good – it is something I would like to develop. Such a group could eventually be run independently by participants/carers. I am always happy to provide advice to main-stream exercise groups so that they have greater awareness in supporting someone with dementia and their specific needs. The way to go is definitely having input from volunteers and carers for those that need 1:1 support whatever the activity.

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