Care home residents improve their heart health

Heart Research UK project

Andrea, Jo, Christine, Sylvia and Leon

Residents at Little Arches Residential Home in Rotherham have become a shadow of their former selves after losing weight as part of a project to improve their heart health.

The “Every Player Counts” programme, being run by Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, has been getting disabled adults in the town involved in sports, exercise and living a healthier lifestyle thanks to a SUBWAY® and Heart Research UK Healthy Heart Grant of almost £10,000.

Rotherham United launched the programme to tackle the shocking statistic that over 90% of disabled people do not take part in any kind of sporting activity*.

Now results taken from three of the residents show that they have lost almost six stones between them, reduced their waist size and each has lost over 10% of their body fat – all factors that will lessen their chances of getting heart disease.

Andrea Briggs, manager and owner of Little Arches Home since it opened in 2001, has been helping the adults with learning difficulties to live healthy and independent lives.

The residents, Jo, Christine and Sylvia are just three of the 80 adults who have taken part in the Heart Research UK and SUBWAY® project in the past year.

The specially adapted activity sessions have focussed on building fitness through a range of sports and exercise including football, cricket, curling and tennis. The fun and interactive sessions have encouraged the participants to Start, Stay and Succeed in Sport and Physical Activity.

Sylvia Fox, 61, lost nearly three stone during the project and is no longer classed as a diabetic. She no longer has to take medication as well as reducing her body fat by 15%, bringing down her body mass index and her doctors are really pleased with the results.

She really enjoyed the keep fit sessions that Rotherham United Community Trust put on for the residents and she is really proud of herself – saying she feels ‘marvellous’ now and no longer eats lots of sweets and eats fruit instead.

Jo Reed is 32 and has been living in Little Arches for two years. She has lost nearly a stone as well as reducing her body fat by 10%. She said: “Being healthy is very important to me – I have lost weight during the programme and it has really made me feel better in myself”. She is no longer out of breath and can walk a lot further.

To help the residents control their portion sizes, Angela bought some smaller plates, controlling portion size as well as providing them with lots of fresh fruit and vegetables – a mixed, balanced and heart healthy diet.

Christine Hunt, 67, lost two stone during the project and has seen her body fat reduce by 11%. She really enjoyed the keep fit sessions and has had the chance to take part in sports, something that she has never done before. She has also enjoyed learning about heart health and her new favourite food is healthy fish, thanks to the project.

Angela Briggs, Owner and Manager of Little Arches Residential Home, says: “It has been so fantastic to work with Rotherham United on this Healthy Heart project – the residents here have loved taking part in the programme, and the results are fantastic. All the residents have lost weight and not only that, they now have an understanding why it is important to be healthy – and that is the most crucial factor. I would jump at the chance to take part in this project once again; we are all so grateful for this help from Heart Research UK.”

Leon Wormley, Disability Development Officer at Rotherham United Community Sports Trust, says: “We are delighted that our programme has been so effective and has really changed the lives of the residents at Little Arches. The statistics show that disabled people simply aren’t getting involved in sports because of the barriers they face. We have broken these barriers in Rotherham by adapting our sessions to meet individuals’ needs and it’s great to see more disabled people getting involved and taking part in regular exercise to keep their hearts healthy.”

Barbara Harpham, National Director of Heart Research UK says: “The results we have seen from this project are absolutly fantastic – the programme has had a real impact on the lives of disabled people in the Rotherham area. It has given them the chance to try out lots of fun and heart healthy activities and build their confidence, which has made them more likely to stay active in the future by taking part in sports and exercise.”

Manaaz Akhtar, Head of Marketing for SUBWAY® stores in the UK and Ireland, says: “The SUBWAY® brand is delighted that through our partnership with Heart Research UK, the HRUK and SUBWAY® Healthy Heart Grant scheme is available. The results of the “Every Player Counts” programme are extremely impressive, and I hope they continue to keep up the great work. SUBWAY® stores in Yorkshire have enjoyed fundraising, and it’s great to see initiatives such as this come to fruition as a result of the money generously donated by our customers in store.”

Heart Research UK

Heart Research UK is the “Helping hearts” charity, a visionary organisation founded in 1967 by heart surgeon Mr David Watson MBE, who realised that patients were dying unnecessarily because of the lack of research into heart disease, especially surgical techniques. More personally, he was tired of telling heart patients that there was little he could do to help them and wanted to do more.

Having funded six of the first eight successful UK heart transplants, Heart Research UK pays for ground- breaking medical research into the prevention, treatment and cure of heart disease.
It supports clinical and surgical projects and young researchers on their first steps into research. In the last 10 years the charity has funded over £10.6m on research projects in hospitals and universities across the UK as well as £1.2m on community-based lifestyle projects that aim to prevent or reduce the risks of heart disease.

Find out more about Heart Research UK at You can follow Heart Research UK on Twitter: @heartresearchuk or become a fan of our Facebook page:


*Source: Sport England’s Active People’s Survey (APS3)

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