As part of the Trust’s Creative Minds project the occupational therapy (OT) team at the Elmdale Ward in Calderdale have purchased four new mountain bikes and cycling accessories to offer a wider range of activities for service users.
After several service users expressed an interest in cycling the team wanted to be able to provide cycling as an activity to help service user recovery within the acute mental health service. At the same time the team were keen to take advantage of the growing popularity of cycling after national campaign the ‘Summer of Cycling’ and Calderdale Council’s ‘Bikeability’ scheme. By having this new equipment they are now be able to extend the range of activities available to service users to help promote physical health and wellbeing.
Benefits of exercise such as cycling include an increase in self esteem and confidence, better physical health, increased social interaction and a reduction in stress. Staff have completed specific risk assessments and operational procedures to ensure cycle routes are suitable and graded appropriately to meet a service user’s individual physical and mental health needs.
The bikes provide an opportunity for two service users, alongside two members of staff, to engage in the activity as part of the weekly programme offered to service users on the ward. Service users who are interested in engaging in this activity are encouraged to build up their confidence in cycling independently and will be helped to find local cycling organisations within their own community upon discharge from the service.
Kath Nichols, occupational therapist on the Elmdale Ward, said, “Given the recent success at the Olympics and the Tour De France we have been able to encourage people to get into cycling knowing that we can actually support this interest. The funding from Creative Minds has provided us with the opportunity to utilise cycling as a therapeutic treatment tool alongside other treatments promoting service user recovery. OT Richard Bates and healthcare assistant Chris Howard have gone above and beyond what’s expected devoting their own time to ensure the success of this project.”
As well as providing the equipment the funding was also used for Richard and Chris to attend, and successfully complete, the Trail Leadership Award with the national cycling organisation CTC. With this training the OTs are able to facilitate cycling sessions in a safe and meaningful way. Training was provided to develop skills in assessing and managing risk in order to lead group sessions on trail terrain.
Mark Wisbey, Creative Minds Co-ordinator, said, “When I first heard what the OT team were proposing I thought what a fantastic idea. We all know how much physical exercise helps people and this is a brilliant project that allows service users to get out and about and explore our fabulous countryside too.”