A community physiotherapy service has been launched to help prevent islanders at risk of falls, frailty and deteriorating health from being admitted to hospital.
The Fit for Life Programme, set up by Health and Community Services, aims to stop patients from reaching crisis point by improving their strength, balance, flexibility and cardiovascular fitness. The programme is part of the Closer to Home initiative - a partnership approach to delivering services and activities for islanders at existing community venues around the island.
Older islanders can be referred to Fit for Life for various reasons such as if they have had a fall or are frail or if they are at risk of falling and frailty. Patients can also access the service following discharge from hospital to aid their recovery, or if they are living with a long-term neurological condition such as Parkinson’s or Multiple Sclerosis.
Patients referred to the programme are invited to two 60-minute group sessions per week for eight weeks at venues in either the east or the west of the island. Currently, sessions are being held at St Ouen and St John Parish Halls as well as Le Squez Youth Centre and St Martin Parish Hall.
Jonny Grimster, Senior Physiotherapist, said: "We realised that we were only seeing people in Physiotherapy when they reached crisis point, for example not until they had fallen and broken a hip. This new service aims to earlier identify those patients who are at risk to prevent them reaching crisis which will ultimately reduce the strain on acute services.
"Public Health England advise that adults should complete 150 minutes of moderate intensity exercise a week or 75 minutes of vigorous intensity activity. If patients come to two sessions a week, then that’s 120 minutes of exercise plus we give them a bit of homework. Adults who participate in any amount of physical activity gain some health benefits such as maintaining good physical and cognitive function."
Initially, the new service approached patients already in contact with the Physiotherapy Department, but it is now asking colleagues within Occupational Therapy, the Rapid Response and Reablement Team as well as social workers to refer islanders who they think could benefit from the sessions. In the future, GPs and islanders themselves will be able to self-refer to the service.
Islanders are assigned to one of four tiered seated and standing exercise groups or circuit-based exercise groups dependent on their ability and are able to move between groups as they progress. Once the eight-week programme is completed participants are reviewed at three months and again at 12 months to monitor their progress.
Jonny said: "The feedback about the service has been really good. We try to match patients with others of the same capability. Research shows that group therapy is very beneficial as patients build a rapport and discuss goals with one another. They build links and friendships in the long-term meaning they are more likely to go on to continue other physical activities and exercise groups together after completing Fit for Life."
Health Minister Deputy Richard Renouf said: "The Council of Ministers is committed to improving islanders’ wellbeing and physical health. This new scheme will play a major role in helping those patients at risk of being admitted to hospital as well as improving their everyday lives.
"This is an exciting time for health and social care in Jersey as we look to move services that don’t need to be provided in the hospital into the community so that high-quality care is easier for islanders to access."