STUDENTS are working with residents in a care home to help them tackle one of the most serious issues facing older people.

The team from the University of Brighton has drawn up an exercise programme which helps improve strength and balance and prevent falls.

Every year about a third of older people have a fall and these account for about a tenth of ambulance call outs.

Falls result in injuries, some serious and occasionally fatal.

As well as the misery caused, they also result in a £2 billion financial burden to the NHS.

University sport and exercise students

Sophie Thomas and Megan Groombridge have been visiting St Margaret’s Care Home in Carlisle Road, Eastbourne, to work with residents on the programme.

Sophie, 20, said: “Our lecturer Robert Harley mentioned the opportunity to set up a falls prevention programme in one of our first year lectures.

“We started to realise the magnitude of the problem and this inspired us to apply for a grant and use our knowledge from our degree into a real life setting with the potential to better our local community.”

Grants are awarded by the university’s school of sport and service management to students involved in work that promotes excellence and supports the community.

Sophie and Megan, 20, were awarded £2,500.

They sent out questionnaires to all 28 care homes in Eastbourne which revealed a need for stability fitness programmes.

The two completed a course to qualify as instructors and are now using their programme as part of their dissertations.

The one-hour fitness classes, twice a week, have proved so popular at St Margaret’s that more residents are joining in.

Megan said: “We would love to offer this to more care homes because we’ve seen first-hand the positive impact it’s had on the residents, but this is not manageable yet with the workload from our studies.”

Sophie said: “The project has helped put into practice ideas and theories we cover at university.

After graduating, both students plan to take a masters degree in rehabilitation science before becoming physiotherapists.

Megan said: “The best thing about being part of this project is being able to give back to the community and do something that I am passionate about, and for that I feel very fortunate. It’s been an amazing experience through which I’ve learnt so much, not just education wise but also about myself, as my confidence in working with vulnerable people has greatly increased. Teaching these residents has been an absolute pleasure as they never fail to put a smile on my face and it’s been so rewarding to see the improvements they have made.”

After graduating, both students plan to take an MSc in Rehabilitation Science before taking up careers as physiotherapists. But they also hope: “More students can find or create opportunities like this for themselves and to get involved in projects similar to this – for us, this has been one of the best things about coming to the University of Brighton.”