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People feel the difference in strength and balance

Local people who’ve had a fall or are at risk of falling are improving their confidence and balance thanks to exercise classes run by Virgin Care in North Kent and some new equipment.

The North Kent Adult Community Services’ Falls Prevention Team runs two classes a week at Gravesham Community Hospital in Gravesend. The classes are open to patients from across the services’ areas of Dartford, Gravesham, Swanley and Swale.

New equipment has been helping the team to challenge people on the course to improve further after receiving funding to introduce new methods of exercise.

Almost £300 was donated  to the service from Virgin Care’s ‘Feel the Difference’ fund. The fund is a dedicated £100,000 a year made available for projects designed and delivered by frontline colleagues to improve the experience of those using the services.

New equipment included a light weight ball, a balance disk, a web dart target game, bean bags and an exercise mat.

Advanced Rehabilitation Assistant, Samantha Simsek, and Physiotherapist, Rachel Miranda, run the classes.   Samantha said, “The majority of our patients lack confidence with their balance.

“The classes and new equipment has allowed us to differentiate the games and activities and helped us to challenge people’s balance without them overthinking the situation, helping them improve both their confidence and strength to avoid falls in the future.”

Following a recent course, of the 11 participants seven improved their balance, nine reported an increase in their confidence and nine have not had a fall since attending.  In addition the majority of patients reported that they did not need to use a walking aid indoors.

Case study

Charles Chapman tells of his experience on the course.

“I had a fall and was admitted to hospital.  I had many tests and investigations carried out in the hospital but they could not find a medical reason for my fall.  I spoke with my GP and said that I had found myself lurching and struggling to walk.  It was the GP who then referred me on to the falls team.

“I’m coming up for 87 years of age and for all those years I’ve done things myself but suddenly I found I was trying to do things but I was struggling and staggering.

“At first I hadn’t noticed any difference in myself and didn’t think the classes were helping.  However, people around me have said, “you look better.”  I don’t feel in myself I have changed but friends and family have said they can see a difference.

“I was offered 1-1 classes at home but declined as I like the social side of the class and doing the exercises as a group.

“I have been able to challenge my balance in a safe environment, which has given me confidence.  I’ve been able to push myself, as I know there are people to support me if something goes wrong.  I wouldn’t have been able to do this with an exercise programme at home.

“I would certainly recommend the course. It’s frustrating that some people don’t try or listen to advice being given when it could help them.”

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