A new partnership project operating across Kingston and Richmond is helping elderly residents maintain their independence by matching trained volunteers to people who need support to complete exercises following a fall or injury. Falls are one of the biggest issues resulting in hospital admission in Kingston and Richmond boroughs.
The programme is run alongside Helpforce, a charity that works with healthcare organisations to increase volunteering opportunities, and is already leading to improved outcomes.
Through this initiative, launched in October 2021, volunteers can spend up to eight weeks supporting patients at home by helping them to complete their exercises safely. With many of these people living alone, as well as the practical support, the patients have spoken positively about the social and emotional benefit in having regular contact with someone.
The current cohort of patients, aged between 76 and 92, has now reached the end of their eight week home exercise programme, with volunteers noting that social interaction with their patients has been equally important as completing the physical exercises.
Richard, aged 83, said of the programme: “The exercises were enjoyable and there was a good variety. I liked being able to choose and tailor the programme to suit my needs. I chose what I wanted to work on which was lower body and balance, then we found the best exercises for this. The sessions went on for a good amount of time- once a week for 8 weeks felt like enough time to build up confidence. It was nice to be able to see the volunteer… it really boosted my mood and confidence.”
A new cohort of volunteers have been recruited meaning there are now nine active Community Exercise Volunteers. Helpforce will now assess functional fitness scores from the start and end of the programme to demonstrate the impact of the service for vulnerable people in our community.