Older people living in care/nursing homes can have a range of health needs. Residents may have moved into the home as a result of an illness or accident. They may lack confidence to be more mobile and active. Staff may be unsure how best to support them with their mobility.
It is important for staff to encourage residents to actively participate in daily life, so that they can live fulfilling lives. Their physical and emotional wellbeing can suffer if they are left to sit for long periods, with little movement and stimulation throughout the day. Inactivity can lead to:
· Muscle wasting
· Poor sleep patterns
· Loss of appetite
· Low mood/depression/dementia
· Poor concentration
· Serious health problems
Care home and nursing home managers can be proactive by organising regular physiotherapy for their residents. Physiotherapy can have a significant impact on their quality of life:
1. Physiotherapists are exercise specialists
Physiotherapists have broad skills in a range of different settings. They have expertise in movement science, analysis and function. They work closely with managers, nurses and carers to help them to understand the mobility and rehabilitation needs of residents, so that they can provide excellent quality of care.
2. Provide comprehensive assessments
Physiotherapists assess individual residents in order to develop a bespoke plan to help them to maintain their mobility, strength and independence. They observe, measure and record their progress, with regular handovers with care staff.
3. Prescribe exercises
Physiotherapists provide regular exercise and mobility practice for individual residents, as well as tailored group exercise classes. They work closely with carers to help them encourage and support residents to continue their exercises safely. This can improve their cardiovascular health, and keep their bones, joints and muscles in good working order.
4. Experts in falls awareness and prevention
Falls often have a devastating impact on people’s lives. Physiotherapists can identify residents at risk of falling and implement measures to reduce their risk of falling. This can prevent fractures, other injuries, and unnecessary hospital admissions.
5. Provide advice/training to build confidence
Physiotherapists provide essential support and education to care home staff and relatives, such as posture management, safe transfers, moving and handling. This can reduce work related injuries to staff and residents. They also give residents the confidence to become more physically active and independent, which can reduce their reliance on staff.
6. Review equipment
Physiotherapists assess equipment such as transfer aids and mobility aids, and suggest improvements to enable residents to become more independent in their functional abilities.
7. Support rehabilitation
Physiotherapists help residents to return home safely after a period of respite care or rehabilitation, for example following a stroke or other serious illness.
8. Support long-term conditions
Physiotherapists provide ongoing treatment for people with long-term conditions, such as arthritis or chronic obstructive pulmonary disease. They help residents manage their condition to prevent it from worsening.
9. Treat pain
Physiotherapists have the knowledge and skills to identify and treat pain, which many people with dementia have difficulty expressing.
10. A holistic approach to wellbeing
Physiotherapists not only provide treatment for residents in care homes and nursing homes, they have an essential role in improving their physical/mental wellbeing and preventing future ill-health. For example, physiotherapy interventions can reduce the risk of residents developing dementia, or delaying the progression of it.