An event to help people with learning disabilities and their support workers make ‘Healthy Choices’ was held recently at Fieldhead in Wakefield.
The ‘Healthy Choices’ event saw around 80 service users with learning disabilities and their support workers attend to speak to a variety of health professionals to find out more about how to live a healthier lifestyle.
At the event, the Wakefield health trainers demonstrated chair-based exercises including seated marching, ball games and work with resistance bands to show people an alternative way of staying active. Seated exercises can be safer and more beneficial to service users with learning disabilities who experience mobility or balance problems.
The health trainers also offered basic health checks, which included measuring people’s blood pressure, height and weight.
Low fat muffins, couscous salad and healthy cereals were served up by the Wakefield community food and health team, who also explained how planning meals around the ‘Eatwell Plate’ – which shows different types of food and the recommended portion sizes for your meal – can help you to have a balanced diet.
Service users and support workers were also educated on how to make simple ‘healthy swaps’ in their diet – for example swapping from whole milk to semi-skimmed, or swapping white bread for wholegrain varieties.
Occupational therapists from the Trust also helped the attendees to relax by demonstrating how flexing and relaxing your muscles can help you to make a clear distinction between the two, and understand when you are feeling tense.
Physiotherapist Kieran Walsh, who helped to organise the day, said: “The day went really well – we had even more people than we expected attending and it was great to see them interested in the activities we had on offer.
“The day was aimed at support workers as much as service users – we want to give them the skills and knowledge to provide long-term support to the person they care for to enable them to make the right choices around healthy eating and exercise in the future.”
A longer ‘Healthy Choices’ course, which will last 12 weeks, is currently being planned by staff at the Horizon Centre – a specialist learning disability inpatient unit in Wakefield.