Helen Krauze and Tony Flower
We all have our motivations for losing weight; but what if you were told that you had a life expectancy of between 14 and 19 years shorter than the general population? Well, this is the shocking reality for people with learning disabilities, as reported by the NHS 10-year strategy.
Many of the causes are avoidable, including fewer people accessing health checks, immunisations, and cancer screening. There has been the extensive promotion of Annual Health Checks for people with learning disabilities to encourage more to attend, so hopefully, this will improve.
Nationally, the most recent data indicates that 37% of people living with learning disabilities are obese, compared to 30.1% of people without. To address this, Talkback has teamed up with the Bucks NHS Trust and Buckinghamshire Council (@BucksCouncil) to run a pilot weight loss programme. Starting in November in Aylesbury and Wycombe, the pilot Energise programme is due to run till March 2022. The programme is funded by Public Health at Buckinghamshire Council.
Helen Krauze from Talkback said:
“It’s about giving clients and their carers the knowledge and resources to make positive changes to their diets, we cover topics such as balanced meals, portion sizes, healthy snacks, triggers to eating, and eating out; along with group exercise sessions, in person and on Zoom.”
Participants set their own clear goals each week, supported by specially designed resources – including personal folders, trackers, easy-read handouts, recipe collections, and exercise videos on Talkback TV. Learning is practical and experiential, with exercise, fun games, quizzes, role play, hand jives; and, on alternate weeks, online movement and dance classes!
But we can’t do it alone! The programme will not work without ongoing support at home. Energise works closely with homes, parents, and carers to ensure greater success. And after just four sessions, eleven members had lost weight and people are regularly accessing the exercise videos. And even better, we have the wonderful team from the NHS Dieticians Team (@BHTdietitians). They bring their energy, expertise and great personalities to make it all possible.
Feedback shows that it’s making a real difference, Claire Childs, STEPS – Epilepsy Society Community Support Coordinator said:
“Since joining Energise we have seen a huge difference in our clients who participate. They have energy and enthusiasm and love to show us what they have been practicing. After the classes, they tell all the staff about what they have learnt and get really excited to buy ingredients to make the recipes at home. For one client, in particular, keeping fit is vital in helping with his health condition. Due to his progress, his surgery has been brought forward and the consultant is very pleased. We really do hope that there are further courses in future, and we have several more clients who are interested in attending. We are seeing a fantastic impact on the clients and how they are learning to take care of themselves and their health.”
It’s fun too, but don’t take our word for it. Have a go at the Energise Food Hand Jive!