Background Patients with life-limiting illnesses often experience functional impairment, resulting in poorer quality of life (QOL). Exercise can improve physical, emotional and psychological wellbeing which help maintain independence and improve QOL (Wittry, Lan & McNalley, 2018). A successful chair-based exercise group is well established, however, a need was identified for a more challenging group for patients with a higher level of functional mobility.
Aims of the project To establish an exercise group to provide a relaxed and sociable environment to promote strength and balance exercises. To investigate changes in mobility after attending a weekly exercise group. To investigate patient satisfaction for the service. To empower patients to self-manage their condition and continue with exercise at home.
Methods Patients were assessed using the TUG outcome measure (Podsiadlo & Richardson, 1991) on initial assessment. Patients attended a weekly exercise group under the supervision of a physiotherapist with volunteer support, involving exercises to improve strength and balance. TUG was repeated at intervals of four attendances and a satisfaction questionnaire was completed at the end of eight sessions.
Results All attendees showed improvements in TUG with mean reduction in walking time of 3.64 seconds (range: 0.25–8.46 seconds). After four exercise sessions 71% of patients had a TUG score of 14 seconds or less – suggesting a lower risk of falls. Satisfaction with the group was high with many positive themes being reiterated including self-esteem, self-confidence and motivation; and no negative feedback received. 100% of responders enjoyed the exercise group and found it relevant to them. 100% agreed or strongly agreed that the exercise was at an appropriate level and alternative exercises were suggested when necessary for individual ability.
Conclusion The exercise group has proved to be a positive addition to hospice services and demonstrated that simple strength and balance exercises are effective in improving both physical and psychological health in this patient group.
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