Catalyst Awardee

Project Description

Developing a toolkit to support health professionals in building community-based group exercise programmes for older people with chronic conditions


Tim Rees, PhD | UK Research and Innovation; Tom Wainwright, PhD; Mark Beauchamp, PhD; Mark Stevens, PhD
Competition Sponsor: United Kingdom Research and Innovation
Awardee Year: 2022

As the United Kingdom’s National Health Service (NHS) waiting list soars above six million people, with treatment wait times over two years, older people with chronic conditions face worsening symptoms, increased use of medications, more complicated surgeries with slower recovery, reduced quality of life, and loss of independence. As part of its plans to tackle this crisis, the NHS promotes exercise as a “miracle cure” for arresting the progress of disease and helping disease management and recovery. However, current plans promoting individual, home-based exercise, as well as on-site hospital-based programs of delivery, have met with only limited success, and face problems of decreased space, capacity, clinician time, as well as lack of knowledge and expertise with regard to effective behavior change. I am proposing to develop and promote a suite of materials and online resources—a toolkit or blueprint—to support health professionals in their development and scaling of non-hospital- (community-) based group exercise programs for older people with chronic conditions. Key benefits for older people include arresting disease, delaying disease onset, reducing pain and need for medication, avoiding surgery, and leading a normal life. My long-term ambition is to develop a go-to resource for health professionals to use to manage a range of conditions associated with older people, for which building sustainable physical activity is an aim. If successful, our innovation has potential for substantial reach and impact, changing the way we manage (and improve the lives of older people living with) chronic conditions, creating cost savings for health systems world-wide.

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