Sleep, nutrition, exercise and friendship: four ways that we promote good health and wellbeing for adults living with complex needs

7 April 2021

Man sat in a chair in a care home lounge smiling at the camera

The focus of World Health Day 2021 is ‘Building a fairer and healthier world’, ensuring that all people are able to access quality health services when and where they need them. 

This World Health Day, we’re sharing some of the ways that Exemplar Health Care contributes to this mission by promoting good health and wellbeing for adults living with complex needs. 

A good night’s sleep

Sleep helps to protect our mental and physical health, quality of life and safety, which is why it plays a vital role in good health and wellbeing.

During sleep, our bodies release hormones that help to repair cells and control the body’s use of energy. This allows the brain and body system to repair, heal and grow, which supports good mental and physical health.

So even though our bodies aren’t moving, a lot happens when we sleep!

Sara McLoughlin, Occupational Therapist at our Tyne Grange care home in Newcastle-upon-Tyne, shares how she supports people to get a good night’s sleep.

“Recently I’ve worked with one of the service users to implement an evening routine, which has improved their quality of sleep – and as a result, has had a positive impact on other areas of their life such as social interaction, communication and general health.

“We worked together to plan an evening routine which involves hourly activities that they find helpful to wind down and relax before going to bed. This routine starts from 17.00 and includes a short walk around the local area, listening to music or a podcast or having a bath. From 20.00, she puts all digital devices, including mobile phone and tablet, away in a drawer.

“We’ve found that engaging in self-care activities on a night time helps to promote relaxation, such as hand massage, facials, using a foot spa, having a bath or writing in a journal.”

Read more about how we promote good sleep.

Getting your five a day

Good nutrition is a vital element of maintaining good health and providing the energy that we need every day.

A healthy and varied diet can reduce the risk of some diseases, including heart disease and diabetes, reduce high blood pressure and improve your ability to fight off illness.

This is incredibly important for people living with complex health needs and conditions.

Our care home Chefs work closely with residents and clinical colleagues to produce tailored meal plans that provide a balanced diet and are full of foods that people enjoy to eat.

Jack Shipman, Catering Manager at our Greenside Court care home in Greasbrough, shares how he prepares meals to ensure that residents maintain a healthy relationship with food.

“When it comes to cooking, I aim to tick all the boxes on nutrition and apply a healthy eating approach to all meals. I try to plan meals that include all of the nutrients, vitamins and minerals that we need to stay healthy, in particular calcium, vitamin D, vitamin B12 and fibre.

“I take a person-centred approach to meal planning, considering the personal preferences and physical requirements of our residents, as well as their cultural background and experiences that may impact meal choices.

“I also encourage the residents at Greenside Court to pick their own food choices which empowers them be more independent and ensures that they enjoy meal times.

“Meal times are often a social occasion, so being passionate about what I do and cooking food that people enjoy, can have a big impact on people’s lives.”

Keeping active

Everyone needs physical activity for good health. Fitness and exercise has many benefits including increasing our mobility, boosting our mood and improving our wellbeing. The guidelines recommend that all adults get at least 150 minutes of aerobic physical activity per week.

Whatever your age, research has shown that staying active in both body and mind has a huge impact on your physical and emotional wellbeing, which can help you lead a healthier and happier life.

At Exemplar Health Care, we have a lot of fun keeping fit and active! Our trained Care Teams, supported by in-house Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists, support people to keep fit and active every day, and tailor activities to suit everyone’s ability levels.

Ian lives at our Kavanagh Place care home in Liverpool, and as a retired full-time gardener, has been keeping fit and active tending to the gardens at the home.

“Gardening makes me feel relaxed and happy,” says Ian.

The Activities Team at the home have also seen the benefits of keeping active outdoors. "When Ian’s out in the garden, he's very content,” says Scott Davis, an Activities Coordinator at Kavanagh Place. “It definitely lifts his mood.”

You’ve got a friend in me

Studies say that people with friends have a healthier heart, immune system, deeper sleep, and better all-round mental health.

At Exemplar Health Care, the health and wellbeing of our residents is our priority - and having fun is the very first of our FIRST values. That’s why all of our homes are designed with lots of shared spaces, like lounges and gardens, to bring people together.

And it shows. We see great friendships between residents and colleagues and other residents at all our homes. 

Sophia Feurtado, Service User Engagement Manager at Exemplar Health Care, shares why she thinks friendships are vital to health and wellbeing.

“We know how important healthy friendships are.”

“Our friends can be someone to throw your head back and have that much needed belly-laugh with.

“Whatever you’re going through, healthy and positive friendships can contribute to positive wellbeing and good mental health.  Friendships can help increase our sense of belonging and help reduce anxiety and stress.

“This is why we encourage residents to form great friendships in our homes.”

Make a care referral

Exemplar Health Care has 32 care homes across England that provide specialist nursing care for adults living with complex needs.

If you’re looking for a complex care placement, get in touch with our Referrals Team on 01709 565777 or