Battersea Bridge House Forensic Hospital, part of Inmind Health Care Group, is a low secure independent hospital providing safe and secure assessment, care and on-going treatment facilities for males aged 18 years and over, with severe and enduring mental illness and additional complex behaviour.
Battersea Bridge House identified the positive benefits that physical exercise was having on their clients through activities on site such as yoga, walking, football and badminton. Linda Hogan, the Lead Occupational Therapist, realised that these activities gave clients the ability to express their energy and at times frustration and tension, presenting a positive effect. However, the challenge was initially getting clients to the groups.
Linda carried out some research amongst her clients and boxing seemed to be a popular sport. It resonated with clients as they deemed it as ‘cool’ and something that peer groups would be respectful of. Additionally, it met their physical and social needs as it offered clients the ability to extend their interest post discharge and train in local clubs which offered cost-effective and sometimes free training.
Linda contacted Warren Dunkley - also an Occupational Therapist within the NHS and part of the team at charity, In Your Corner (IYC). IYC has developed a wellbeing programme, using the sport of boxing, with an aim to improve the physical health of children and adults under mental health services or at risk of being referred to primary or secondary health services in London and Kent.
An initial taster session was very well received with 6 people attending, and many more opting to watch before they felt ready to join. Furthermore, 100% of those attending the first session, returned to do the next session. This presented a significant retention rate improvement amongst a population group with chronically low motivation and high levels of fatigue.
These exceptional results were partly down to the trainer’s approach with this historically, non-participative client group and the programme itself. The programme is specifically designed to move through the following methodology: engage; inspire; grow; impact.
Engage: The trainers go onto the wards initially to drum up interest. Their intention is to build trust through support and give clients the confidence to take the leap to join in. IYC has their own kit so they are entirely mobile and can set up easily in any room with space to move. Each client is assessed so that the programme can accommodate their personal level of fitness and psychological wellbeing.
Grow: Improvement in fitness is extremely important for this client group who are at high risk of weight gain and diabetes due to the high dose antipsychotic medication that they take. Clients soon start to feel confident and see their personal fitness levels increase.
Impact: At the end of the programme clients are measured on psychological changes and fitness changes. These are compared against week one so clients can see their progress. The evidence of progression is important for this group so they can recognise and start to understand the positive effects that boxing can have on their health – for example, weight loss and improved cardiovascular ability.
The CQC has recognised the efforts of the team at Battersea Bridge house by awarding them an overall ‘good’ rating and siting the boxing group as having a positive effect on clients with the further benefit of regular contact with people outside the hospital.
IYC has successfully managed to make introductions for clients into local boxing gyms so that they can make advanced social connections with the intention of their attendance once discharged. The client group have high levels of testosterone, agitation and have lethargic symptoms due to medications plus susceptibility to drug and alcohol problems and peer pressure when they leave Battersea Bridge House. Boxing is deemed to be fashionable with this group, acceptable with peers and these social connections through boxing have proved to have an extremely positive effect in helping clients stay focused and fit.
The programme is structured to gain trust and interest through the technicalities of the sport which is of interest to this client group and when results start to emerge the sense of achievement is high.
Due to the success rates of the trail, Inmind Health Care Group have secured funding for a further one year’s commitment with the In Your Corner boxing charity.
"The boxing……it takes all of the anger out. It makes me look forward to tomorrow."
"Well conducted and very therapeutic. It was fun and helped with fitness, so I would recommend."
"Very professional and very well communicated. Really good sense of humour."