Topic: ‘The effects of group therapy on restoration of mobility in the residential aged care setting: a pilot studys

Day: Thursday 22 October 2020

Time:  3:30pm-4:00pm AEDT


Does an individualised, group-based exercise program improve mobility in older adults living in residential aged care (RAC)?

Exercise to improve function is well documented as evidence based practice. Individualised assessment, treatment planning and consumer directed goal setting are vital to achieving best outcomes. Group exercise therapy is a cost effective way to achieve outcomes, while remaining sustainable and scalable. Additionally, the Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the need for older adults living in RAC to continue exercising to optimise mobility and function.

A single-group pilot study across 5 RAC in Tasmania, Australia between 01/01/2019 and 30/04/2020.
29 residents of RAC, participating in the Reablement Program were included in this pilot study. Mean age = 88, (F=17, M=12). Residents were considered for the Reablement Program if they showed recent functional decline and residents with a dementia diagnosis were not excluded.
The Reablement Program runs twice weekly for 6 weeks as a group-based exercise program. Programs have 3 participants and are run by a registered physiotherapist. Every participant receives a physiotherapy assessment and is supported to set functional goals. Each participant receives an individualised treatment program, reviewed and progressed by the physiotherapist throughout the program.

Outcome Measures:
Function was assessed using the 10 metre walk test (10MWT), timed 5 x sit-stand (5xSTS) and 4 point balance scale (4pt balance), taken prior to and upon completion of the program. Each outcome measure was scored as improved, maintained or declined. Upon completion of the program, the primary goal was determined to have been achieved, partly achieved or not yet achieved.

Two participants did not complete the program due to illness. For remaining participants, results were as follows:
10MWT (N=22) : 63.64% improved, 27.27% maintained, 9.09% declined
5xSTS (N=25): 84.00% improved, 16.00% maintained, 0.00% declined
4pt balance (N=8): 62.50% improved, 37.50% maintained, 0.00% declined
62.96% of participants who completed the program achieved their primary goal. 18.52% partly achieved and 18.52% had not yet achieved their primary goal.

Preliminary results indicate that an individualised, group-based therapy program can improve mobility outcomes in residents of RAC after functional decline. The next phase of this study includes standard outcome measure collection for participants of the Reablement Program and the introduction of a control group. This data set will be completed in December, 2020.





Dr Meg Polacsek is Senior Researcher at Benetas. Prior to joining Benetas, Meg worked in a range of research and project management roles in the academic, public health and non-profit sectors. Having worked as a personal carer and quality officer in residential and community aged care, Meg is passionate about developing and implementing evidence-informed, person-centred approaches to care that make a difference in real world settings. She has published and presented widely on research findings, and theoretical and methodological issues in research, and has developed and delivered specialist workshops and co-design events.