Abbeycroft Leisure, working with West Suffolk Clinical Commissioning Group and West Suffolk NHS Foundation Trust, have teamed-up to provide easily accessible rehabilitation and preventative falls training for clients in a leisure setting rather than a traditional healthcare environment.
Initially, participants join a 12-week programme, which involves a group ‘strength and balance class’ once a week. Typically, people attending may have fallen already or for different reasons are worried about their balance. Each class consists of 60 minutes of specific movements and exercises that safely challenge balance and muscle strength, followed by 30 minutes tea, coffee, and a chance to chat with fellow class members.
Making time for the social element of the programme is seen as particularly important and a great opportunity to develop mutually supportive friendships, which often lead to ongoing participation in other activities beyond the programme.
Currently the falls prevention programme is available at Abbeycroft’s Newmarket and Haverhill Leisure centres, however, it will soon be available at their Brandon and Bury St Edmunds sites also.
Figures from Public Health England show that the impact on the NHS of older people falling is staggering with the total annual cost of fragility fractures estimated at £4.4 billion.
Approximately 30% of people aged over 65 years have a fall each year, increasing to 50% in people aged 80 or over. About one third of people who suffer a hip fracture resulting from a fall die within a year, approximately 20% enter a care home, and half never return to their previous level of independence.
Matt Hickey, Health, Fitness and Wellbeing manager for Abbeycroft Leisure said “The programme has really gathered momentum since we launched it earlier this year in Newmarket, with more than 35 clients successfully going through the 12-week programme and continuing to stay active within the facilities, which will reduce the likelihood of them falling in the future. As a not-for-profit social enterprise, we’re committed to providing as many opportunities as possible for local people to lead healthier, active lives, and this type of preventative programme is a shining example of how working in partnership with our healthcare providers can be so effective.”
Chris Barlow, Clinical Project Manager for West Suffolk CCG said “Our patients have really seen the benefits of Abbeycroft Leisure and West Suffolk NHS Foundation trust’s community therapy teams coming together to deliver this programme. By working collaboratively and thinking differently around how falls prevention programmes are designed and delivered, we’re able to offer an effective and motivating class. Participants have said they particularly enjoy the social aspect of the groups, have found increased confidence with their mobility, and have adopted physical exercise as a positive weekly routine that has great long-term health and wellbeing benefits.”
Picture credit – Phil Morley Photography
Back Row: Left to Right – Chris Barlow, Mandy Felton ( Abbeycroft Leisure), Stephanie Poole (Physiotherapist Newmarket community team), Matt Hickey, Laura Keen (Physiotherapist Haverhill community team), Kim Parr (Abbeycroft Leisure), Warren Smyth, (CEO Abbeycroft Leisure)
Front row: – Participants of the Haverhill Falls Prevention programme