As women age, their bodies go through various natural changes that can impact their overall health and wellbeing. They may experience physical ailments such as joint pain, muscle weakness, chronic health conditions, and reduced mobility. Some women face additional challenges which can make them more vulnerable to poor health, such as living with abuse and trauma, difficulties accessing health and wellbeing support, social isolation, and financial hardship. Health inequalities in our society were particularly exasperated during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Community-based group physiotherapy can help older women to improve their physical, social, and mental wellbeing. It offers a unique opportunity to become a social prescription tool to support women whose wellbeing is particularly compromised, by helping to bridge the gap in support and resources they may face. It can support them to maintain their independence, manage long-term conditions and improve their quality of life. In this article, we will explore the benefits of group physiotherapy further.
1. Personalised care and guidance
Sessions are led by an experienced and knowledgeable physiotherapist who provides expert guidance. The therapist acknowledges their complex needs and physical abilities, enabling personalised care and tailored interventions. This ensures that exercise programmes are properly executed to prevent injury or exacerbate existing conditions, and women receive high quality care and attention they need to thrive.
2. Managing long-term conditions
Physiotherapy has long been recognised as an effective intervention for managing long-term conditions such as diabetes, heart problems, arthritis, and stress. Older women from deprived backgrounds often face a higher risk of developing these conditions due to various factors. Group physiotherapy offers a comprehensive approach to managing these conditions, combining exercise, education, and lifestyle changes tailored to each participant.
3. Building social support networks
Many adults are less physically active as they age. Inactivity can increase falls, obesity, heart disease and joint dysfunction. This can have a significant impact on people’s daily lives to remain confident, independent and social. During the pandemic many older women felt socially isolated, lonely and stagnant. Group physiotherapy provides an opportunity for women to connect with others who are facing similar challenges, helping alleviate feelings of isolation. It offers a safe and non-judgmental environment where women can rebuild their confidence by achieving physical goals, receiving encouragement from peers, and improving their overall wellbeing.
4. Learning from each other
Sessions provide an excellent opportunity for women to learn from each other's experiences. Participants can share their stories, successes, and challenges, creating a supportive and empathetic atmosphere. This can be instrumental in helping them to stay motivated and take control of their own wellbeing, so that they adhere to their physiotherapy routines and push through challenges.
5. Improving skills and enhancing life opportunities
Participating in sessions can enhance women's skills for the future. They are encouraged to adopt an active lifestyle through simple chair-based exercises, which they can do regularly at home. Learning proper exercise techniques, understanding their bodies, and gaining knowledge about managing their conditions empowers them to continue their health journey independently beyond the group setting. Improved physical fitness and overall wellbeing can open doors to engaging in social activities, pursuing hobbies, and even re-entering the workforce.
Physiotherapy provides a multitude of benefits, ranging from expert guidance, physical improvement, peer support, and opportunities for social connection. When run as part of a social prescribing scheme it can help to address health inequalities by recognising the unique needs of individuals. Physiotherapists can create an inclusive and empowering environment that supports women to take control of their own wellbeing, and ultimately lead healthy and fulfilling lives.
At Village Physio we design and deliver bespoke community-based group physiotherapy programmes for organisations, charities, community groups and care homes. We recently worked with the United Multicultural Centre, a charity in Rotherham, to develop a group physiotherapy programme for women over 50. Contact us to discuss your needs.