Encore Care Homes has pledged to offer every resident the opportunity to spend one hour outdoors every week to boost their health and wellbeing.

Staff at the firm, which manages three care homes in Bournemouth, Christchurch and Fareham, have decided to take action following research by the Department of Health, which shows that half of care home residents across the UK never go outside.

Encore aims to offer every resident the chance to spend 60 minutes each week outside in the care homes’ landscaped gardens, walking through a local park, or even taking a stroll to the shops through the ‘A Breath of Fresh Care’ initiative. Currently research shows that care home residents in the UK spend an average of just 90 seconds a week in the fresh air.

Studies show that care home residents are twice as inactive as residents who stay living in their own homes.  The findings confirm that the health and wellbeing of people living with dementia significantly improves from spending as little as 10 minutes outdoors each day.

Izzy Nicholls, operations and quality director of Encore Care Homes said: “We know that daylight is just as important for our residents’ mental health as it is for their physical health, and already incorporate the outdoors into our activities. Getting outdoors can help to improve residents’ sleep, awareness, verbal expression and their memory, as well as encourage people to be active while socialising with others.

“At Encore, we are dedicated in caring for our residents and bringing them joy every day. Our ambition to offer every resident in our homes the opportunity to spend 60 minutes a week outside ensures that they live a happy and fulfilled life, where they can continue to enjoy the activities that bring them cheer. For example at Great Oaks care home in Bournemouth, we have raised flower beds and a vegetable patch, which our residents help look after and maintain.”