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27.03.12

Improvements needed for elderly exercise programmes

NHS exercise programmes are beneficial to the elderly, yet fail to meet the requirements in the recommended guidance, research by the Royal College of Physicians (RCP) has suggested.

A survey of 1,700 older people who had attended programmes to reduce falls reported that 96% found the exercises beneficial or quite beneficial and 95% were very satisfied or satisfied.

Yet the frequency, intensity and duration of most programmes was not at the level recommended by best practice guidance, and many staff did not have the appropriate level of training to deliver the programmes.

Follow-up classes could help to reduce the number of falls that elderly people are more likely to suffer and the RCP also recommends monitoring the quality of training and delivery of exercise programmes.

Dr Jonathan Treml, consultant geriatrician at University Hospitals Birmingham and RCP associate director for the National Audit of Falls and Bone Health said: “The right type of exercise is the single most effective way of reducing the risk of falls in older people. It is concerning that many local NHS services appear to provide exercise programmes that are of insufficient duration or intensity to assure benefit to this vulnerable group.”

Jackie Riglin MCSP, falls prevention coordinator and clinical specialist physiotherapist, Cambridgeshire Community Services NHS Trust and RCP clinical associate for falls said: “The positive feedback from participants of the benefits of exercise to them is heartening.

“However, it is vital that clinicians, CEOs and commissioners of Falls Prevention Services now work collaboratively to build on this enthusiasm and ensure provision of long term evidence based classes  that are specific enough to reduce falls, injuries and hospital admissions and improve quality of life and independence for older people who have fallen.”

Tell us what you think – have your say below, or email us directly at opinion@nationalhealthexecutive.com

Comments

Denis   20/06/2012 at 14:59

A longitudinal study has been done using the gaitAGE.com gait screening product for nearly two years, where regular monitoring and balance class exercises have not only kept the class from falling, it has also highlighted early when the persons gait had changed. The changes due to muscle and when the person had stopped eating.

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