During International Day of Older Persons (1 October 2021) we are raising awareness of the effects of inactivity and deconditioning of older patients whilst in hospital and the benefits of activity and exercise.
Older adults are particularly vulnerable to hospital-acquired deconditioning, losing as much as 5% muscle strength per day.
Reduced physical function following hospital admission results in a large number of patients leaving hospital with a lower level of function, being readmitted within 30 days, falls and a rising demand for social care services.
Róisín Fallen-Bailey, physiotherapist in older people’s medicine at Newcastle Hospitals was recently awarded an NIHR Pre-doctoral Clinical Academic Fellowship (PCAF) to develop and evaluate approaches to patient activity and function decline in older adults.
Róisín said: “We are all ageing. There are an increasing number of older patients in the hospital environments who do not move. There is a myth that when people are unwell or in pain they need rest to get better.”
In hospitals patients can spend 83% of their stay in bed and 12% of their day in a chair, with 10 days in hospital the equivalent to 10 years of physical ageing.
Róisín added: “Physiotherapy interventions alone are not sufficient to prevent hospital-acquired deconditioning. We need to work together.
“We cannot reverse this trend but we can prevent avoidable complications by encouraging movement and providing support to be active.”
There are different ways to move to help older people move safely, and maintain skills for everyday life. This includes helping people moving both in and out of hospital.
This can include:
- Sitting in a chair for all meals
- Being efficient
- Being adaptive
- Encouraging patients to dress themselves.
You can watch the animation on #MakeMovementCount below.
Róisín and Occupational Therapist, Catherine Thomas, developed this short animation which will be shown to new starters in the Trust as part of the preceptorship programme, to raise awareness of deconditioning.
Róisín honed her research expertise via a NMAHP Research Internship at Newcastle Hospitals, which was funded by Newcastle Hospitals Charity.
Linda Tinkler, Trust Lead for Nursing, Midwifery and AHP Research at Newcastle Hospitals said, “We are delighted to see Róisín developing this work further following her internship.
“Her dedication to raise awareness, whilst developing much needed research and meaningful interventions in this important area is a great inspiration to others with questions that may lend themselves to research.
“We look forward to seeing the positive impacts of Róisín’s research on the patients in our care as her clinical academic career continues.”
The animation was funded by a grant award by the Council for Allied Health Professions in Research.