Simon Kerrigan during Guide Healthcare’s first exercise class over ZOOM video conferencing technology

An aged care allied health organisation has launched a series of videos and a weekly live exercise class on ZOOM to help combat physical deconditioning among aged care residents during the coronavirus pandemic.

The Get Up Guide is a daily training program of exercises designed for care workers to deliver to residents daily to keep residents active and minimise the side effects of reduced activity like falls.

It is an initiative of aged care allied health professionals Guide HealthCare and is available to all for free.

The program and resources include:

  • five 3-5 minute training videos for staff on the daily exercises
  • five handouts with the exercises for each day including a recording chart so residents can track their efforts and progress
  • a weekly live ZOOM exercise session and catch-up to assist with reducing isolation, build community and add fun
  • weekly exercise-based challenges for residents to participate in.

Guide Healthcare managing director Simon Kerrigan said they developed the resources because of the probability of aged care homes ending up in lockdown, residents going into isolation and activity levels dropping during the COVID-19 pandemic. 

“If homes can create a culture around care staff trying to drive some increased activities in the room we thought that might help to combat some of the deconditioning that could occur if people aren’t moving as much,” Mr Kerrigan told Australian Ageing Agenda.

He said they thought care workers were best placed among facility staff to lead this program because they spend the most face-to-face time with residents.

The videos can be watched during handovers or lunch breaks and provide care workers with a quick and easy way to become familiar with the exercises.

Each daily video involves three simple exercises and a different focus, including lower limb strength, balance, upper limb strength and movement, cardio and dynamic balance.

Monday’s exercises, for example, aim to assist residents to improve their lower limb strength and include sit to stand, heel raises and hip or knee flexion exercises.

In the videos (such as above), Mr Kerrigan demonstrates each exercise and provides tips on how to adapt and modify exercises and keep residents safe.

The challenges are based on exercises in the daily programs such as 1-minute sit-to-stand or a wall push-up challenge.

Staff are encouraged to submit videos of residents completing the challenge.

“We will put a highlights reel together and show it during the Thursday exercise group and try and give some awards out.”

Last week, Guide Healthcare rolled out the program to the facilities where its physiotherapists work at and launched the resources publicly.

It also held its first 30-minute exercise class over ZOOM last Thursday.

“We had 12 live streams so 12 sites coming in from across three states and about 50 residents who got involved,” Mr Kerrigan said.

“There were plenty of smiles and everyone had a good time.”

A clip of Simon Kerrigan running Guide HealthCare’s first exercise class over ZOOM

Mr Kerrigan said they made the resource free to try and reach as many aged care workers and homes as possible because studies have shown the impact declining physical activity can have.

“Prolonged immobility and bed rest leads to diminished muscle mass, decreases of muscle strength by 2 to 5 percent per day, muscle shortening, changes in periarticular and cartilaginous joint structure and marked loss of leg strength that seriously limit mobility.

“The decline in muscle mass and strength has been linked to falls, functional decline, increased frailty and immobility,” he said.

Access the program here.

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