Background Following a literature review and visiting other hospices, it became clear that regular exercise groups can be effective in maintaining fitness and activity levels as well as improving mood and reducing fatigue.
We were keen to ensure that we were meeting the needs of patients with potential to maximise fitness and independence in a way that was good use of time and resources.
Aim To assess the value and effectiveness of hospice-based exercise groups, to inform future planning, ensure best practice and optimise patient experience.
Method Appropriate patients were recruited to a weekly circuit-based exercise group run by a physiotherapist and volunteers. Baseline data were collected and goals set. Reviews took place after a minimum of two months attendance, with assessments repeated, goals reviewed and subjective views collected.
This evaluation was carried out a year after the group was set up.
Results Eight people attended the group regularly, with a variety of terminal diagnoses.
Regular attendance, satisfaction and goal achievement were seen as an indication of effectiveness and value. Improvement in outcome measures were seen (75% of two-minute walk tests and 80% 5×sit to stand) but this was considered of secondary importance in this population of patients with deteriorating terminal illness.
Participant feedback underlined the importance of regular supported exercise and goal achievement, resulting in increased confidence, activity and independence as well as reduced reliance on medications. The importance of social support and improved mood was also highlighted.
Lessons were learned that have informed future planning and the setting up of additional exercise groups.
Conclusion Group exercise is an effective way to support people living with a terminal condition, enabling them to remain as active and independent as possible at the same time as providing social support.
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