ELDERLY people up the age of 103 are eating better, suffering less falls and living more independent lives thanks to two brothers and the music of Frank Sinatra.

Personal trainers Joe and Tony Burns have designed what is thought to be the first dedicated fitness class for care homes and hope their model will be rolled out across Scotland.

Oakminster Healthcare, which trialled the classes in five homes ,says the chair-based exercise classes have reduced stress and agitation, cut the number of falls and boosting nutrition by helping stimulating appetites. Residents are requesting double sessions of the classes.

While the exercise itself has major physical benefits, the musical playlist the brothers created featuring the likes of Dean Martin, Sinatra and Sam Cooke lifts spirits and helps trigger memories for those affected by dementia.

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Those who don’t have any relatives look forward to their visits, says Joe, who lives in Glasgow’s West End but is originally from Uddingston. The brothers, who say they are “best friends” have a great rapport with residents and will always spend half an hour or so after classes chatting over coffee.

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Joe, 35, said: “This has been a dream of ours for the past five years. We can now say we have clients from 18 to 103.


“We’ve both got old heads on our shoulders if you like.

“For us, we were interested in training older people are part of our qualification to work with older adults.

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“Nobody was really doing it and we stumbled upon CAPA - Care about Physical Activity - it’s an initiative that was developed by the Care Inspectorate and British Heart Foundation which tries to encourage residents to be more self sufficient and to move more and to ensure they are keeping themselves healthy.

“We got in touch with them and designed our own workout and got in touch with the Oakminster health group to ask them how they would feel about us trialling this in about five of their homes.

“They were very receptive.

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“We created a dedicated playlist. Our grandfather was a big Sinatra fan and we designed a playlist with Sam Cooke, Dean Martin.

“We trialled it with five homes and they absolutely loved it. We’ve had two clients of 103 and the staff say they have never seen their level of engagement.”

Research has shown exercise helps prevent falls, reduces the risk of stroke or heart attack, improves bone density, increases confidence and independence and may help reduce or delay the effects of dementia.

The brothers, who run a fitness studio in Glasgow City Centre, have created an exercise class that is functional, ultimately aiming to help residents live more independent lives in care homes.

Tony, 32, who lives in Hamilton, said: “It’s based around armchair exercises.

“We have broken it down into upper and lower half of the body. Sitting down, we might do knee extensions. For the upper body we would do a push or pull movement which could help with something as basic as opening a door.

“It improves their balance and flexibility. It helps with the joints.

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“Some of the residents can’t even move so we have to split it in a way that they aren’t getting too tired.

“That’s been a work in progress for us. We’ve had to adapt, to make sure they are really getting the best out of the workouts and don’t get too exhausted and that’s a really important thing for us.”

Joe said: “We normally spend half an hour or so after the classes chatting to the residents.

“Music is a massive part of this. We actually had one resident tell us the music had triggered a fond memory from their past.

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“I was blown away by that. People laugh and sing and tell us afterwards how much they enjoyed it and that they want to see us back.”

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The brothers are working with five homes including Oakbridge on Great Western Road and Oakview Manor Care Home in Pollokshields but want to reach as many as possible.

Megan Allan, operations director of Oakminster Healthcare, said: “It’s had a huge impact on residents.

“They really look forward to it. I think some of the residents see them as being like their grandsons.

“Their approach is very dignified and very respectful. They go round everyone, it’s very one on one. We had one class where the residents asked for a double session, they were enjoying it so much. It was about 40 minutes.”

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Joe said: “Ultimately these people deserve respect, they deserve the care, they deserve the workouts and they can do it.

“If someone at 103 can do it then anybody can do it as far as I’m concerned.”

The Evening Times is backing a campaign by Alzheimer Scotland to ensure everyone with advanced dementia is entitled to free healthcare.

To support the Fair Care campaign click here