We loved this story on www.carehome.co.uk

A ping pong craze is sweeping care homes all over the country inspired by the Ping Pong Care Campaign.


Thousands of care home residents have taken up the sport, since the campaign launched last year, in a drive to tackle ageism and encourage older people to be more active.

So far over 1,200 care homes have received the ping pong pack, which includes an inspirational film about the over 80’s world ping pong championships, plus a guide, a table tennis net and bats.

The film Ping Pong is a feature documentary following eight over-80 world table tennis champions at the over 80’s World Table Tennis Championships in Inner Mongolia.

It follows the competitors through the highs and lows of playing table tennis at an international level. For some, table tennis gives them a reason to live, with reigning world champion, 89-year-old Ursula Bihl, saying on the film: “I would like to die on the table tennis table.”

Emotions run high in the film and the champions show such tenacity and such a determination to win, despite some of them battling against the physical ailments that tend to come with old age.

Centenarian, Dorothy DeLow, from Australia, who is featured in the film, says “Table tennis is my life” and for these competitors it really is. She reveals how she lost her husband and her daughter and says “I was playing table tennis, and I think that saved me”.

Dorothy, who is the oldest competitive player in the world, left the UK on a Sydney bound boat in 1911 when she was two – around the same time table tennis is thought to have been invented. She started playing in her 70s when both her husband and her daughter died in the same year.

Similarly to Dorothy, it was playing table tennis that turned Inge Hermann’s life around.

The 90-year-old from Germany who also stars in the film says: “Table tennis saved my life”.

Fifteen years ago, her husband of 40 years died, Inge stopped eating. She would get up in the night and be confused as to why all the shops were shut. She stopped drinking liquids and her sense of balance was dramatically affected. She fell down the stairs in her home and following a series of strokes, Inge moved into the dementia ward of a nursing home.

After discovering a table tennis table in the basement of the care home, Inge trained her mind and body and is now not only fully recovered but is on the management of the care home and also runs a weekly computer class teaching internet skills to dementia patients. Inge’s story of rehabilitation is supported by research on the beneficial effect of table tennis on stroke victims and people with dementia.

Since it launched last year, the Ping Pong Care Campaign has been showing the film in care homes across the country in the hope that some of this determination and zest for life will inspire residents and make a real difference to their lives.

Andrew Battley, who coordinates the Ping Pong Care Campaign run by the BRITDOC Foundation, says: “We have had an incredible reaction to the film when we show it in care homes. They smile and laugh and once they are shown how to use the nets and bats, they are buzzing.

“Some of the care homes have set up mini tournaments. Residents say the film inspires them and makes them want to get involved in table tennis. Table tennis is good for your mental state and your physical health. You have fun and it helps people to stay fit. We want to smash the stereotypes people have about older people.

“So far we have distributed the ping pong packs to over 1,200 care homes. The pack is for smaller care homes that don’t have the resources of the bigger ones. We are trying to focus on regions and areas that under-serviced and we have been working with local authorities to help us identify which care homes will most benefit from receiving the free packs.”

A BIG Lottery Fund Reaching Communities Award has enabled BRITDOC to spend this year taking the campaign around the country encouraging care homes, residential villages, community centres, sheltered housing and day centres to screen the feature documentary Ping Pong. The campaign has also succeeded in building bonds between care homes and schools and a number of care homes now have school children going in to play table tennis with the older people on a regular basis. The campaign is also supported by the English Table Tennis Association which is providing coaches to support activity sessions.

Richard Yule, chief executive of the English Table Tennis Association, said: “We’re delighted with the success of the Ping Pong film and pleased that it will continue to help our older generation be inspired to keep active. It is our belief that table tennis is truly a sport for all ages and the success of the project illustrates this point of view.”

The campaign encourages everyone to get involved and offers its free Ping Pong Care Packs to care homes and older people’s groups and organisations with limited resources wishing to organise community-based activities. Alternatively the pack can be purchased.

For further information about the campaign and to apply for a free pack go to www.pingpongfilm.co.uk/campaign.

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *