Backround In the ageing societies one of the main aims of social and health policies is to find the best ways in promoting the independent living of old people. The Strength in Old Age Programme aims to promote the mobility of older adults (75+) with decreased functional capacity by physical exercise. The programme is coordinated by the Age Institute and financed by Finland’s Slot Machine Association, Ministry of Education and Culture, and Ministry of Social Affairs and Health.
Methods 38 municipalities (2010–2015) were chosen for the three-year development in order to implement the best practices in exercise counselling, strength and balance exercise and outdoor exercise. The municipalities committed to implementation through multisectoral collaboration without extra funding. The sectors included municipal social, health care and sports services, and NGOs. Each sector appointed one of their regular staff to coordinate and cooperate with the Age Institute. Local cross-sectoral work was supported by the mentoring of the Age Institute including counselling, training and development tools.
Results The number of exercise groups (1500) and participating old people (22 044) in the target group doubled. In total, 70 percent of the target population living in the 38 municipalities have been reached. Based on the assessment of 2,000 participants, strength and balance were improved in 53% and maintained in 38% during the exercise period. A cross-sectoral cooperation group and the implementation of best practices was established in 30 municipalities, and in 36 municipalities the health enhancing physical activity of old people was included in the welfare strategies.
Conclusions With the help of the three-year mentoring including training and support for cross-sectoral collaboration it is possible to implement research-based good practices within older people’s physical exercise and improve the mobility of older adults.