Background In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, the hospice moved to digital approaches. Whilst tele-rehabilitation has shown benefits for various chronic health conditions (Bhatt, Patel, Anderson, et al., 2019; Zanaboni, Hoaas, Lien, et al., 2017; Hwang, Bruning, Morris, et al., 2017), there is a gap in the literature on telehealth interventions for palliative rehabilitation.
Aim To evaluate digital delivery of a palliative rehabilitation programme and obtain perceptions of users and staff.
Methods All members of the Fatigue and Breathlessness (FAB) follow-on group (n=19) were invited to complete a questionnaire on the experience of transitioning to Zoom sessions. Descriptive statistics were produced using the statistical software package, Stata (Version 15; StataCorp, 2017). Qualitative data were analysed using an inductive thematic analysis framework (Braun & Clarke, 2006). Three members of the rehabilitation team were interviewed about encountered benefits and challenges.
Results Thirteen members completed the questionnaire (68%) and all were positive about the transformed sessions. Eight respondents (62%) felt that the Zoom sessions were ‘no different’ or ‘better’ than in-person sessions. No adverse events were reported. Themes from open-ended comments included patient-level effects such as maintained exercise and social contact when in isolation and removed travel requirements. At the service level, there was improved access but technological challenges. Most respondents (9, 69%) suggested keeping the option of Zoom for flexibility and 46% (6) wanted both staff-led and self-led elements.
The rehabilitation team felt their rapid response and team working enabled efficient transition to Zoom. This included risk assessments, particularly for those living alone. With help, users quickly learned and the virtual delivery provided opportunities to try new activities. At times, staff found the ‘silent audience’ challenging. The rehabilitation team felt the approach may only work with groups with existing rapport.
Conclusions The hospice rehabilitation team now provide concurrent sessions at home via Zoom and in the hospice. These access options provide choice, appear to be acceptable and offer flexibility around changing condition status and personal factors.
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