Swimming lessons in Carnforth have helped people who shielded during the Covid-19 pandemic

Carnforth Community Swimming Pool.Carnforth Community Swimming Pool.
Carnforth Community Swimming Pool.
People in Carnforth who suffered a detrimental impact during the Coronavirus (Covid-19) pandemic from having to shield have seen an improvement in their mental health and wellbeing after taking part in swimming lessons for one hour per week.

Participants were identified by Ash Trees Surgery and referred to the pilot sessions led by a professional swimming teacher at Carnforth Community Swimming Pool.

Sessions ran for ten weeks and the swimming teacher provided advice and guidance regarding exercises to carry out in the pool, including the use of resistance bands. Each individual was given tailored exercises to meet their own needs (a personalised exercise plan), for aches/pains, and the teacher was available to support with exercises during the session. The swimming teacher was able to offer advice to support each swimmer according to their health requirements.

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The sessions were supported by the swimming pool, Carnforth Integrated Care Community, Carnforth and Milnthorpe Primary Care Network and two community grants from Tesco Bags of Help and Eric Wright Charitable Trust.

Feedback from participants included: "Tremendous! I was given exercises I hadn't used before which helped me considerably. I enjoyed meeting new people, they were a nice group and the teacher was great, she gave me confidence to continue swimming and I swim at the pool at least twice a week now.”

“The social contact with the sessions has been helpful and has been the first contact I have had outside the home for some time.”

“I have gained a lot from attending the Carnforth Pool sessions and would like to praise our swim coach Pat who has been encouraging. The social interaction as well as the exercise has helped me to manage my symptoms of low back pain. As a result of the sessions my medication has been reduced.”

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John Blowes, Trustee and Director of Carnforth Community Swimming Pool, said: “We were pleased to be able to assist, given the Pool is intended to provide mental and physical health benefits for all members of the community. Given success of the pilot sessions, we are planning to continue with two sessions a week through 2022.”

Dr David Wrigley, Ash Trees Surgery GP and Carnforth ICC Clinical Lead, said: “The results from these sessions are hugely impressive. As a GP I have seen the impact COVID has had on my patients and their physical and mental health. These sessions which are run in the community have been a lifeline to many and I hope we can continue them so more patients benefit in the future.”

A questionnaire was used to evaluate the sessions with participants reporting the largest increase in scores for the following:

· “I’ve been feeling good about myself”

· “I’ve been interested in new things”

· “I’ve been feeling interested in other people”.

Emma Paul, Development Lead for Carnforth ICC, said: “I’m really proud to be part of this project having worked closely with the Social Prescriber from Carnforth & Milnthorpe PCN Wellbeing Hub. This pilot project has been a great success, not only for improving people’s physical health, but their wellbeing too. I am looking forward to seeing more people benefit from sessions at the swimming pool in 2022.”

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Iain Cole, First Contact Physiotherapist at Ash Trees Surgery, said: “The benefits of exercising in water are appreciated by those with painfully stiff knees, hips and backs. We can exercise more freely in water as it supports joints and provides resistance to strengthen muscles. When Carnforth Pool reopened after lockdown, this project provided a welcome option for patients who saw me with various aches, pains and difficulties. All those who I spoke to reported positive comments ranging from being more confident to resume swimming, walking and other activity outside.”

Ash Trees Surgery continues to identify people who have suffered a detrimental impact during the pandemic and the ICC and the swimming pool are working together to identify grants to put on further sessions.

Carnforth Community Swimming Pool opened its doors back in 1978 following a spate of tragic water-related accidents around the town. In its fortieth year, it stopped being council-run and has been put into the hands of a group of local people who had the vision to ensure its survival and growth for Carnforth and the surrounding area. It provides health and wellbeing to people of all ages; a hub where people can meet, get fit and have fun. You can find out more about the swimming pool here.

ICCs were developed by Bay Health and Care Partners (BHCP) to ensure that services are tailored for the needs of the local population. There are eight ICCs around Morecambe Bay, each with its own priorities. You can find out more about the ICCs at the BHCP website here