Background Research suggests that participating in some form of physical activity improves quality of life and leads to better outcomes for palliative patients. However, evidence suggests that there are variable levels of participation and engagement in physical activity for many reasons. One of the common reasons provided is the reluctance to access mainstream gyms and services due to a perceived lack of support and specialist knowledge of their diagnosis and symptoms. Due to our small team, there are often many challenges to providing our patients with these services.
Aims Our aim was to improve the opportunities for hospice patients to participate in supported gym-based exercise groups.
Methods We contacted several universities to establish interest in exercise student placements. We developed links with a local university, arranging clinical placements for six exercise students over an eight week period.
Following an initial physiotherapy assessment, and prescription of appropriate exercises, two students worked together delivering gym sessions. Students were encouraged to progress exercises with physiotherapy support and report any issues back to the therapy team.
Following the eight weeks, feedback was obtained from both students and patients.
Results Results have been positive. The students have enjoyed the experience a clinical placement has offered, and two have since enrolled onto a physiotherapy degree course. Uptake onto the classes and gym sessions was good. As well as reporting enjoyment of the sessions, patients reported improvements in quality of life.
Conclusion Our work has demonstrated that offering exercise services within a hospice is important to palliative patients. Developing relationships with other institutions and exploring the use of different academic students (to complement our physiotherapy student placements) is both resourceful and valuable. Work is ongoing. We hope that by maintaining these links we will provide hospice patients with greater opportunity to access beneficial services for the future.
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