“Drop down and give me 20”…
What do you think about when you hear exercise and strengthening: sweatiness, gyms, Lycra, pain. As a busy mum to 3 children, exercise is something I don’t have much time to do but am I active? Absolutely!!
I am a specialist Physiotherapist within the reablement service STARS ( short term assessment reablement team)- and my main role is to promote exercise and well being in the community- my target audience- not lycra gym bunnies, but over 65 year olds who normally have a long term condition who are recovering from a spell in hospital, and likely do not own trainers or know what a squat entails. Who am I to advise to join a swimming group, attend low impact exercise classes or complete a rehab programme when I do not complete myself? Instead I walk to the park, climb up woods, I cycle with my children, I chase after them endlessly… so we need to think different about activity.
The benefits of rehabilitation, recovery and reablement support are well evidenced in Health and Social Care interventions. The support improves a person’s ability to function independently, encourages exercise choices and to take control of their daily activities.
I work closely with 3rd sector and community teams, to encourage and promote active participation socially- tailoring every service users needs with their capabilities and skill sets and I see the patient as an individual not a condition.
- what are their hobbies ?
- what do they enjoy the most in life?
- what is meaningful to them?
- what matters to them which they are currently not able to do or accommodate?
We support service users to identify their goals through good conversations. We also support them to develop, retain and regain their skills by understanding what matters to them- this may not often happen initially but over the course of the reablement process from our support workers, we build relationships and find getting to know them and their families/carers imperative for helping them identify their goals.
We look at well being plans which can be something as simple as getting to the shop to purchase a daily paper, getting back to social activities, or being able to transfer into a bed or car again so they can visit someone important to them. We promote the benefits to exercise in line with recent evidence via Scottish government 2017. Many include:
- Reducing falls
- Improving strength and balance-
- Improve wellbeing
- Reduce anxiety, improve sleep
- Social Interactions/ reduces isolation
- Day to Day activities become easier
As a registered practitioner, we document their wellbeing plans and agree this with the service user, enabling our health care support workers to deliver the daily practice of the chosen activity, whether this is a walk to the shop, a spot of gardening, making soup or practising stairs/ steps. This allows us to see progression and plan goals,
As a physiotherapist, I have blended alongside the occupational therapists in our team in the last five years to learn the importance of occupation (activity) led tasks and changing mindsets to linking social interests to exercise. In the time it takes someone to boil the kettle, they can do basic exercises such as the Balance challenge or super 6 exercise programme. Reactivating “activity” to improve health and well being, Independence and quality of life is based on continuing research carried out at Newcastle University Institute for ageing with Professor Gore (2017). For example being able to reach your feet to cut your toenails, walk 400 years or maintain heavy housework. (http://www.knowedlge.scot.nhs.uk/ahpcommunity/lifecurve-survey-2017.aspx)
So, lets get more active and promote activity, lets think differently about exercise , and think about What matters to you for healthy ageing?
Erin Archibald is a Specialist Physiotherapist, STARS- Short term Assessment and Reablement service 28th January 2019.