Strong and Steady Falls Prevention Programme - During Coronavirus
Posted: Fri, 15 May 2020 14:34
On the 16th March 2020, Inspiring healthy lifestyles' (IHL) took the decision to postpone all face to face contact with clients on the Strong and Steady programme.
The falls prevention scheme, targeted at people aged 65+ who are at risk of having a trip or fall, normally takes place weekly within leisure centres and community venues across the Selby District. The programme forms part of a North Yorkshire wide scheme and is commissioned by North Yorkshire Sport.
Due to the emerging COVID19 pandemic, we (amongst many other business), were forced to change our delivery model almost imminently to protect the most vulnerable, including the elderly. Although the situation was unprecedented, IHL's commitment to supporting clients remained the primary focus.
Suddenly, face to face contact was prohibited and by Friday 20th March our leisure centres closed for the foreseeable future. How do we continue to provide secondary care to those in need? What will our services begin to look like if offered remotely? What effect will the impact of COVID-19 have on our clients' and staff's mental and physical health?
These amongst many other questions emerged as our teams began to work from home. What was clear was IHL's ambition to support clients in a new, innovative way. We took the decision almost immediately to action weekly welfare calls to participants on Public funded schemes and prioritise our health programmes.
Supporting the calls, online resources and virtual home exercise programmes became available via email and social media. We also offered post resources to clients without internet access or an appropriate device. We were beginning to adjust to a new way of working when the next inevitable change came to fruition.
On Thursday 2nd April, 5/6 of staff within the Selby Wellbeing Team were placed on furlough leave due to the financial impact of the pandemic. Our Wellbeing Manager, Dani, now remains the single point of contact within the team and conducts the client welfare calls.
During one call, a client from the Strong and Steady programme explained she was feeling depressed and was finding it difficult being isolated from her family. The 86-year-old lives on her own and is being supported by her neighbours and family to ensure she receives weekly shopping (at a safe distance). The client explained she was suffering from swelling in her calf and had previously been treated for varicose veins. Dani asked meaningful questions to prompt the client to give further information concerning her state of health which confirmed she also has high blood pressure and high cholesterol. Dani felt concerned about the client's inability to walk due to the pain in her leg and the cardiovascular implications this could cause, therefore advised the client to call her GP at the earliest convenience.
Until this point, the client had been fearful of contacting her GP practice due to government guidance asking the elderly to self-isolate for at least 12 weeks. Dani reassured the client and explained that telephone appointments can be conducted where appropriate. Dani called back the following day to check medical advice had been sought. The client had trusted Dani's instruction and reported that her GP had visited her almost immediately following her call the next morning. The client's GP confirmed she did not have deep vein thrombosis and advised her to take water tablets for a week to reduce the swelling. During the subsequent call with Dani, the client described she'd recently suffered a fall as a result of imbalance on her affected leg. She called the pain excruciating, so Dani suggested another call to her GP - it was then confirmed she had snapped her tendon.
Although the client is still struggling to walk, contact during the weekly welfare calls and Dani's commitment to follow up on the participant's health on alternative days of the week has had a significant impact on the client's safety and medical care. The client has likewise been given necessary information to seek mental health support regarding her feelings of depression should she require help. The focus of our welfare calls is not placed on checking physical activity levels (as we would do in normal circumstances), but on general wellbeing and understanding individual circumstances.
The calls have enabled new relationships to form between IHL and our clients, embracing a complete "client-centred" approach. Alongside pivotal signposting and guidance to appropriate services, the impact of the calls on clients' mental health is overwhelming. Contact with our clients is crucial now more than ever. For some, this is the only call a client may receive throughout the week which allows us to identify any additional needs.
Furthermore, our Marketing and PR team are working tirelessly to update information on the newly launched "Home Health Hub" which sits on our website. This resource supports clients with exercise, nutrition and mental health, along with arts and crafts ideas. We feel proud to be pushing the boundaries of our usual role and responding to the varied challenges our communities are facing.
Written by Inspiring healthy lifestyles, Sports and Leisure provider on behalf of Selby District Council