“At Total Health Physio we’ve built our practice around the values of trust, compassion and care. This case epitomises that; it wasn’t about just turning up and delivering an exercise program, it was about engaging with the client and really recognising and responding to all of their needs.”
Sherrie Krampel, founder of Total Health Physio
As the Covid-19 Pandemic began spreading throughout Melbourne in March, we were contacted to assist a new patient who was 99 years old and residing at an aged care facility in Caulfield.
This extraordinary woman was normally out in the community, walking long distances and engaging in regular exercise at the gym. The pandemic restrictions had interrupted her usual activities and she found herself confined to her aged care facility.
Her family contacted Total Health Physio for private Physiotherapy services to help keep her active and healthy and to make sure she didn’t lose her functional capacity during this lockdown period. They were also concerned about the impact of the lockdown on her mental health; she was no longer able to leave the facility and was also no longer able to have visits from family and friends.
Our Physiotherapist did a general functional assessment to explore the client’s current level of activity. Our initial testing included a five times sit-to-stand timed challenge and a Berg Balance Test.
We also knew that the client was capable of regularly walking a kilometre or more before the lockdown began.
Our overarching aim was to ensure that the client was able to keep up the same level of mobility and endurance despite not having access to her usual exercise and activities.
Our initial assessment had given us a benchmark for those activities, and regular retesting would demonstrate whether our work together was meeting that goal.
First and foremost, we wanted to make sure that we protected her from any functional decline.
We also needed to make sure she was engaged and enjoying our sessions – we wanted to provide an experience for her to look forward to, and that would add meaning to her day. In the absence of visits from her family and friends, we were aware that these visits were the main interaction she could have outside of her residential contacts.
We knew these two things could come together in our work with her: engaging with people and exercise releases endorphins, which would contribute to her feeling a sense of purpose and motivation.
Creating a plan
During this ‘stay home, stay safe’ period, our Physiotherapist has been seeing the client twice a week. Over that time, the focus has been on working on balance, strength and endurance. Activities included:
- a six-minute walk test
- a reclining bike in the in-house physiotherapy gym
- strength and balance exercises with a balance board or foam balance pad
- proprioception and balance work, done through balloon-tapping exercises
We have also utilised a software program called Physitrack to create a personalised exercise program, which we printed as a worksheet for her to follow in her own time as she desired.
Each session is designed to help mobility, strength and mental wellbeing. We play music to lift her spirits and energy levels, and intermittently included short face-time sessions with her family as well. Whenever possible we go outside on the balcony to take advantage of any sunshine and fresh air. (There’s nothing like vitamin D and some sunshine for any individual, at any stage of life).
Achieving Goals Together
We’re still working closely with this client and we know we’ve had a very positive impact: she has told us how much she enjoys the sessions and what a difference it has made to her through this challenging time.
She loves the Physiotherapist who is supporting her – so much so, in fact, that our Physiotherapist was recently invited to her 100th birthday celebration!