Advances in health care have helped people to live longer than ever before – in fact a child born today will live five hours longer than a child born yesterday. This should be something to celebrate however longer life doesn’t always equate to a healthier life as we spend an average of 16 years of our later life in ill health which is creating new challenges for the NHS.
We at Move it or Lose it are working to support older people to look after their own health, particularly people with multiple long term conditions, including frailty, so they can enjoy active, healthier and happier lives.
Our sessions are now being delivered in community, care and NHS settings for people who find it difficult to exercise and is proving to be both popular and cost effective.
Here are three examples of our impact.
Royal Voluntary Service
RVS ran the Active Moves pilot, supported by the People’s Postcode Lottery, which showed a positive impact from our targeted physical activity programme in terms of physical function for independent living and wellbeing/loneliness.
Recognising that the majority of social and physical activities provided in the community are for those who are more agile and mobile – such as Zumba gold, tai chi, yoga and tea dances. RVS were looking for something suitable and evidence-based to help those who might be frailer (e.g. following a period of illness, surgery or accident) and/or those with cognitive impairment (e.g. dementia). Move it or Lose it was selected to help them improve the physical, emotional and cognitive health of these older adults.
Move it or Lose it in GP surgeries
Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) is estimated to cost the NHS £1 billion each year and results in 115,000 emergency hospital admissions in the UK. Pulmonary Rehabilitation (PR) in the form of exercise has been shown to have positive effects on COPD patients yet traditional PR does not appeal to those with breathlessness and has adherence rates of about 50%.
Following a successful pilot, Move it or Lose it! have been commissioned by Birmingham CrossCity CCG to deliver exercise classes to COPD patients in the GP surgery in an initiative to promote health and well-being.
The aims of the programme are to: 1.) improve patient health and quality of life, 2.) educate and empower patients to take control and self-manage their condition, thus reducing time for GP appointments, hospital admissions and their associated costs. and 3.) monitor and evaluate the physical and psychosocial function of the patients.
St Giles Hospice & Age UK Burton
We worked with St Giles, Age UK Burton and Dove Housing to deliver exercise and education sessions for thirty-seven frailer older adults with an average age of 78.
Short Physical Performance Battery (SPPB) scores pre- and post- intervention were used to assess lower extremity function with scores improving on average by 15%, with the greatest improvement being 67% from a score of 2 to 10 points.
85% of participants improved gait speed (4 metre walk) which correlates to improved wellbeing and functional status.
96% increased the number of chair rises with the greatest improvement being 60%.
Participants moved from ‘frail’ to ‘managing well’ showing higher levels of independence and empowerment.
The best exercise programme for older people is the one that they do on a regular basis and so making the classes enjoyable, adaptable, sociable and accessible is vital. Even relatively small increases in physical activity are associated with some protection against chronic diseases and an improved quality of life and these benefits can deliver cost savings for health and social care services.
As Move it or Lose it classes are group exercise sessions this also allows friendships to be built and helps people feel that they belong.
By working together with GPs, CCGs, Universities and Charities we can create real social impact to ensure older people can enjoy, rather than endure, later life.