Background Public Health England guidance advised people with CF to shield during the COVID-19 pandemic. We were concerned about patients struggling with isolation, lack of team contact and the inability to exercise. As such, we set up interactive exercise sessions for patients attending our unit, with the aim of supporting our patients to remain active while complying with the guidance and creating a holistic support network.
Methods Over the 4 months of shielding, we developed eleven interactive online sessions per week, with different levels of intensity, and delivered these simultaneously to inpatients and outpatients. All patients at the Leeds Adult CF Unit, regardless of session attendance, were invited to answer an evaluation questionnaire for the service. Feedback from the multidisciplinary team (MDT) was also collated.
Results Overall 75 patients attended the sessions at least once, and 36% of them provided feedback. 70% of patients found it harder to motivate themselves without the sessions and 83% reported exercising more frequently as a result. Over 75% of patients thought the sessions were enjoyable and would continue after shielding. Among those who did not attend the sessions, 22% of patients responded to our survey and the majority reported that they already achieved the minimum activity levels.
Feedback from the MDT was very positive as the sessions allowed staff to identify patients needing greater input to optimise care and enable individualised reviews. Staff morale and well-being was also positively affected by the sessions.
Conclusion The interactive online exercise sessions gave our patients the opportunity to engage in a physiotherapy-led exercise programme during shielding. Both active and inactive patients participated as a result of offering different intensity training options. Through the medium of live online classes, we were able to give people in shielding social contact, peer-support from others in the same situation and enhancement of physical health. Direct contact with the familiar physiotherapy team allowed advice to be given as required. This service will be monitored and reviewed in a further 3 and 6 months post cessation of shielding.
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