Remote rehabilitation

Patients from across the region are benefiting from remote respiratory and cardiac exercise sessions from North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust.

Pulmonary rehabilitation is a programme of exercise and education for those with long-term lung conditions such as COPD, bronchiectasis, pulmonary fibrosis, asthma, cancer and those waiting for lung transplants or other thoracic surgeries.

Recognised as being one of the most clinically and cost effective medical interventions, Pulmonary Rehab is also known to reduce both exacerbation rates and hospital admissions. The Royal College of Physicians estimates those who complete a pulmonary rehabilitation programme will likely spend only an average of 4.8 days in hospital within 18 months of receiving treatment compared to the 9.6 hospital bed-days endured by those who do not.

Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week - Physiotherapist Shane Hassell and Assistant Angela Debois

Cardiac rehabilitation similarly helps people get back to a full life after a heart event such as a heart attack, coronary angioplasty or bypass surgery, but it’s also about supporting people with a heart condition such as stable heart failure, stable angina or cardiomyopathy.

The Trust began running virtual pulmonary and cardiac rehabilitation sessions using the secure Attend Anywhere video software during the COVID-19 pandemic. The scheme has proven so successful that the pulmonary rehabilitation and cardiac rehabilitation teams are expanding the offer to include virtual cardio-pulmonary rehabilitation for those patients with heart and/or lung conditions.

To cope with the increase in demand they have opened the new Cardio-Respiratory suite at UHH and will be using new software which will enable more people to take part in each session.

• Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week - Pulmonary and Cardio Rehab team (Front right: Joanne Symm, clinical respiratory specialist - Front Left: Janine O’Rourke, cardiac rehabilitation specialist nurse)

Joanne Symm, clinical respiratory specialist, said: “During the height of COVID-19 we obviously had to limit face-to-face contact with our patients as the majority were advised to shield because of their long term lung condition.

“We recognised that our patients needed our continued support so we developed a menu of service delivery options that would prevent deconditioning during the pandemic, virtual being one of them.

“Paper based home exercise programmes aren’t for everyone and part of why we deliver the sessions in person is so we can make sure each exercise is being carried out safely and effectively.

“So faced with this challenge, we got the remote rehabilitation sessions up and running really quickly using the Attend Anywhere system. It’s a safe and secure package where the patient at home only needs a smartphone and internet connection for us to be able to connect with them at home. It worked really well but it’s limited as we can only have three or four people per session.

“We’re in the process of introducing the Microsoft Teams platform as we can have up to ten people in each class and maintain visuals with that package. It makes it even more cost effective for the Trust and more fun and engaging for the patients.”

Janine O’Rourke, cardiac rehabilitation specialist nurse, said: “After seeing how successful it was, our cardiac rehabilitation team jumped at the chance to run virtual exercise sessions for our patients.

“Now our patients, many of whom are recovering from serious heart conditions, are able to receive their regular rehabilitation sessions in complete safety while still under our watchful eye.”

This week is Pulmonary Rehabilitation Week and North Tees and Hartlepool NHS Foundation Trust is proud to announce a customer satisfaction survey showing 95% of our pulmonary rehabilitation patients would be ‘extremely likely’ or ‘likely’ to recommend the service to friends or family.

Joanne commented: “The remote sessions have been very popular and we are thrilled to see that so many patients find what we’re doing so beneficial, they would recommend us”.

“As well as making them feel safer throughout COVID-19 and providing social interaction, patients have said virtual is more convenient and cheaper than going to a hospital or community venue for their rehab.

“It’s absolutely a win-win for everyone.”

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