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Woman, 85, learns to swim for the very first time having lived her life afraid of water

PUBLISHED: 09:16 15 June 2018 | UPDATED: 09:16 15 June 2018

Brooklands Care Home swimming lessons.
Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Brooklands Care Home swimming lessons. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Archant Norfolk 2018

An 85-year-old suffering with dementia has learned to swim for the very first time, having lived her life afraid of water.

Brooklands Care Home swimming lessons. Residents Kate McNae, left, and Yvonne Pocklington, right, with home manager Julia Chapman-Wright. Picture: ANTONY KELLYBrooklands Care Home swimming lessons. Residents Kate McNae, left, and Yvonne Pocklington, right, with home manager Julia Chapman-Wright. Picture: ANTONY KELLY

Lesley Warren’s new experience has come thanks to her care home’s innovative approach to their residents’ welfare, after they decided to take some of them swimming.

Julia Chapman Wright is the home manager at Brooklands Care Home in Drayton. She said: “We were looking at new ways we could improve the care of the people living in our home and someone suggested swimming.

“We just thought: ‘Why not?’ And it’s been overwhelming to see the impact it’s having on our patients.”

Mrs Chapman Wright said: “Lesley grew up during the war and was told it wasn’t safe to swim so she never learnt. She was very nervous the first time, but the second time she went she remembered what to do, in spite of living with advanced dementia.”

One of the swimmers enjoying her time in the pool. Picture: Brooklands Care HomeOne of the swimmers enjoying her time in the pool. Picture: Brooklands Care Home

Mrs Chapman Wright, a Hardingham resident, added: “She was almost picking up the water, running her hands through it and really looking at it.”

Mrs Chapman Wright, 52, added: “We take nine residents swimming every fortnight at a private pool.

“It’s lovely because some are learning new skills, and others are recalling memories like teaching their children to swim, or where they used to swim growing up.”

The care home team is also seeing medical benefits to the initiative. Mrs Chapman Wright said: “One of our residents, David, who is 73, was very active when he was younger but now has to use a frame to walk.

“But swimming in the water supports his weight and he can walk the length of the pool, and it’s given him his independence and confidence back. His strength has improved so much.”

The nine-strong swimming team are accompanied by nine carers from the home.

Mrs Chapman Wright said: “It’s a very relaxed atmosphere, it’s very peaceful whilst we’re in the pool. Sometimes there’s people chatting and remembering things, but often it’s just quiet.

“It has a really good effect on our residents afterwards as well. They have an increased appetite and always sleep well because of the physical activity.”

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