Submitted by Karen
We are a team of three Cardiac Specialist Nurses, two Physiotherapist and a Cardiac Exercise Specialist, providing time sensitive information and advice.
Although during the first lockdown, we continued to speak to and send tailor made information specific to the patient’s needs, it became clear that providing our cardiac rehab patients with written exercises was inadequate and unsatisfactory. We quickly realised that in the absence of our exercise classes we needed to be able to provide a visual exercise programme for patients to follow.
We trawled the internet to see what was available in video form, but nothing resembled our programme. So, armed with a video camera, lots of enthusiasm and much hilarity, we set out to film each level of our exercise classes. We starred in the videos ourselves and our lead physio was camerawoman, director and editor extraordinaire!
Early in April 2020, we were able to provide the exercise videos to our patients to support our telephone advice. It has made a tremendous difference for patients to be able to see what they should be doing, and have something to follow at home. With additional assessment tools this enabled us to progress exercise intensity with confidence.
Watching the video also meant the patients were able to put a face to a name, as the people they were talking to on the telephone were the people starring in the video. The combination of the exercise videos and regular telephone follow up meant that we could continue to provide our patients with the much needed timely exercise and specialist advice that they require following a cardiac event, intervention or surgery.
Although we were able to restore face to face assessments, we still relied heavily on the exercise videos as we were unable to restart our group exercise sessions safely.
However, on the introduction of lockdown two, it was a seamless transition back to remote support using the telephone and exercise videos again. This meant that as a team we were able to continue providing a service for our patients despite most members of the team being redeployed to other areas.
We are proud that we have been able to continue our service throughout the past year having acted quickly to make our own exercise videos and adapt our programme. Prescribing exercise over the telephone is definitely difficult; but as exercise is so important for our patient’s rehabilitation post cardiac event/surgery, we had to find a way of doing it as safely as possible in a way patients could understand and enjoy.
We have learnt a lot through this process, not least that face to face contact with our patients is key and without it they struggle. As a positive, we now have a bespoke home exercise programme available for those patients who can’t, or don’t want to come to group sessions.
We also know that we have a great team who have all been flexible, adaptable, resilient and completely supportive to each other throughout a challenging year.