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'Pimped up' Zimmer frames reduce falls and confusion for care home residents with dementia

Article By: Charley Walker, News Editor

A Scottish care home has joined the Pimp My Zimmer craze by revamping and decorating residents’ traditional walking aids, which has proven to have health benefits as well as looking good.

Resident Jean McQuistin with her 'pimped up' walking aid

The campaign began in an Essex care home after creative care home manager Angela Donlevy wanted to add a splash of colour and fun to the traditionally grey walking aids used by residents.

Helping to reduce falls by up to 60 per cent, the initiative has now spread as far as Scotland, with Thorney Croft Care Home in Stranraer being one of the latest to join in ‘pimping’ their Zimmer frames.

Hayley Mann, care home manager of the Community Integrated Care home, said: “This project is a great example of a simple idea with a very strong impact.

“Grey Zimmer frames are often not recognisable to people living with dementia, as they disappear into their surroundings and are difficult to see.

“Personalising the frames has really helped people we support connect with their frames, reducing the risk of falls.”

Every resident who needs a walking aid at Thorney Croft now has one adorned with colourful foam padding, bright ribbons, flowers, personal photos and memorabilia.

Jean McQuistin, a resident at Thorney Croft, is delighted with her newly decorated walking aid, which has been decorated with colourful flowers and feathers.

She said: “I think it’s great. My favourite parts are the flowers. I’m so pleased they’ve done this for me.”

Each aid is tailored to individual residents’ tastes, with relatives, staff and members of the local community getting involved in the project by donating materials, fabrics and decorations.

By making the frames personal to each resident, they are being used more often which in turn is helping to reduce falls.

Resident Jean Fisher and her personalised walking aid

Angela Donlevy, who pioneered the project at Chalkney House care home in White Colne, said: “A lot of the time they weren’t using their frames and they were falling because they just couldn’t remember to use them.

“Now, making them individual, they have started to use them and it’s reduced the falls in the home dramatically.”

“The residents now take ownership of their frames and they’re very possessive of them

Ms Mann added that being so interactive, the project has helped inject a greater sense of community spirit into Thorney Croft home in Stranraer.

“As well as the practical health benefits it has created, ‘Pimp My Zimmer’ has been such an interesting and interactive activity for residents, staff and relatives to work on together – it’s really added a sense of fun to our home,” she explained.

“I’d like to say a huge thanks to our NHS colleagues, physiotherapist Jen Graham and podiatrist Pamela Muirhead, for signposting us to this brilliant campaign.”


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