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Getting patients fit for Christmas

Monday 18th December 2017

St. Vincent’s Hospice are pioneering a new treatment approach for patients with life limiting conditions, helping them get fitter and more active in time for Christmas.

Continuing their dedication to helping more people manage their conditions in their own homes, the Hospice invited six people to take part in their Wellbeing Group. Combining carefully structured exercise programmes with education sessions, the group aimed to give them tools and support they needed to improve their fitness, get more active and improve their quality of life without additional medication.

Commenting on the Group, Physiotherapist and Day Hospice Manager, Sarah Mitchell, said: “There is a growing body of evidence to suggest that rehabilitation techniques can be very effective for treating patients in a palliative care setting.

“Not all of our patients need to be admitted as In-Patients, but can benefit from regular support as they may struggle to carry out some daily tasks that many of us take for granted. Building on well established approaches used in heart and lung conditions, we set-up the Wellbeing Group to find out if these really could make a difference to our patients.”

In addition to the weekly sessions held at the Hospice, participants were also given home exercises to carry out twice a week. All participants underwent tests at the beginning and end of the project to assess how it had affected their overall fitness with some impressive results.

They all demonstrated an improvement in at least one area of their fitness, with the most marked improvement being in lower limb strength, a vital area for allowing individuals to be mobile and independent.

Participant in the project, John Rumble, commented on his journey, saying: “Back in March I was diagnosed with Prostate Cancer. It travelled into my leg and into my knee, causing me tremendous pain, to the extent that when I first came to St. Vincent’s I was in a wheelchair.

“Thanks to taking part in the classes and working with the team, I gradually got out of the chair and moved on to elbow crutches and then onto walking sticks. At the beginning of the month, I threw one of the walking sticks away, and can now even do my shopping without it, just using the trolley to provide a bit of support. It has been absolutely incredible.”

Sarah added: “In my experience, people just want to do the normal things in life, and we know how important it is for people to spend this time of year with their families and friends. We are absolutely delighted with the results; the team work very hard, and to know that we have given some of our patients the ability and confidence to enjoy the festive season and hopefully have a bit of fun makes it all worthwhile.”

The Wellbeing Group has just completed its second cycle of patients, with plans to continue to develop and implement the approach for more patients within the Hospice in 2018.

Getting patients fit for Christmas