Ernest Kleinwort Court Residential Centre
A single piece of equipment has the power to transform many lives.
In the autumn of 2013, Disabilities Trust directors were searching for something to encourage physical activity and bring distinctiveness and entertainment to people with complex physical disabilities. They came across the CardioWall and within 3 months Ernest Kleinwort Court in Sussex became the first residential centre in the UK to install this innovative new interactive game wall.
"The impact of the CardioWall has been huge, with improvements to the fitness, strength and mobility of our residents. It was clearly a hit from Day 1. It’s an activity, it encourages friendships, builds independence, it’s fun, it’s great for morale... In fact it’s very hard to put into a few words just how big an impact the CardioWall has had here."
Service Manager at Ernest Kleinwort Court
Ernest Kleinwort Court (EKC) is part of The Disabilities Trust; a charity which provides care, rehabilitation and support for people with physical disabilities, acquired brain injury and learning disabilities as well as children and adults with autism. The Trust operates over 20 sites across the UK. EKC is a residential centre and 80% of those who live there are wheelchair users, many with extremely limited mobility.
Impact of the CardioWall
The CardioWall is centrally located in the day room at EKC, so can be used both in organised activity sessions and informally by residents on and off throughout the day.
The impact of the CardioWall has proved to be far more wide-reaching than expected. The benefits experienced at EKC are not just physical, but social and psychological too – and encompass the service users, the staff and the business as a whole.
"The impact of the CardioWall has been huge, with improvements to the fitness, strength and mobility of our residents. It was clearly a hit from Day 1,” observes Anita Cobb, Service Manager at EKC. "It’s an activity, it encourages friendships, builds independence, it’s fun, it’s great for morale... In fact it’s very hard to put into a few words just how big an impact the CardioWall has had here."
Physical Benefits for Users
The core concept behind the CardioWall - where users knock-out as many coloured lights as possible within a minute – is that the game motivates you to work harder than you might otherwise choose to do.
For those with physical impairments, having fun on the CardioWall leads quickly to improvements in mobility, dexterity, strength and balance – which then benefit the quality of daily life.
Activities Coordinator Sue Lane says the benefits are clear to see: “It has given them encouragement to get fit. In using [the CardioWall] they build up the muscles and tendons in their hands and arms. Their grips are much stronger– you notice this as they’re pushing themselves around in manual wheelchairs – now they’re doing this with ease. Their hands are more free now. They have strengthened so much by using the CardioWall."
Benefits recorded at EKC
Stronger core enables residents to sit more upright in their wheelchairs.
Stronger and more flexible hands enable them to use utensils, wash up and dry up, so they can now take part in weekly cookery sessions.
Some can now hold their own drinks and assist themselves with their own meals.
Greater uptake in weekly physical activity classes, including enabling EKC to start a popular ‘Chairobics’ session.
The impact of the CardioWall on residents and staff at EKC has by no means been limited to a physical one. “The CardioWall has brought a lot of enthusiasm, fun and games and laughter to EKC,” enthuses Activities Assistant Millie Helsby. “They love competing with each other, and they love working as a team. It brings the residents closer together. People now get involved in our Activities session that would never have done so before.”
One resident – usually preferring his own company – ventured out of his room keen to find out what all the laughter was about. He now regularly plays on the CardioWall with other residents. It has been a catalyst for him and others to form new friendships and improve self-esteem.
“The CardioWall has become like a meeting part of our day,” says Sue. “It’s become quite a social event, and people who perhaps wouldn’t have bonded with each other before now get on well. It has noticeably boosted moral amongst residents.”
Accessibility and Engagement
The CardioWall® can be played with bare hands, boxing gloves, soft weights, or a specially- designed ‘Reach Extender’ for users who have the most limited mobility.
Even the least mobile can benefit: “We’ve got two ladies that sit and watch and listen. They can’t actually do the CardioWall, but they want to be part and parcel of it, laughing and joking with them when things go wrong!”
The CardioWall has also had a dramatic effect for staff at EKC. It has inspired both the staff and the residents to become more active. The opportunity for staff to have fun playing with, and competing against, residents gives everyone a lift. Plus, of course, happier residents make for happier, more motivated staff too.
The CardioWall has good visual impact and offers a talking point that paints EKC in a good light.
When showing potential new service users around, Service Manager Anita Cobb always goes through the activities program, describing Chairobics and showing them the CardioWall. “When people see it in use, it looks fun and they know they’re going to be part of the group straight away."
“It doesn’t just say ‘we’re different’, it says ‘we care, we go the extra mile for our service users, we love seeing them make improvements in their capabilities, and we actually have fun with them here.’ It helps us communicate the family atmosphere of EKC, that service users want to experience, and that their families want to see too. CardioWall is the best piece of equipment we have purchased in a long time! It lifts the spirits of everyone here AND helps us to attract new service users.”
Summary of Benefits
Physical benefits: Better hand, wrist and forearm strength, mobility/dexterity; core strength, balance & hand-eye coordination; improved cardiovascular fitness.
Social Impact: encourages social interaction; actively fun and boosts morale; develops self-esteem, ideal '‘ice-breaker’ with shyer residents and new users.
Inclusivity & Engagement: accessible to users with very wide range of disabilities, including learning difficulties and autism; encourages social inclusion.
Staff Wellbeing: encourages fun engagement with residents; encourages physical activity; easy to run activity sessions; boosts morale widely.
Commercial Advantages: strong statement to potential new service users; differentiator over other residential centres.
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