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Home rehabilitation to help people with heart failure achieve better quality of life

Posted on 4 April 2019

A new rehabilitation programme which significantly improves the quality of life of patients with heart failure from the comfort of their own homes will be rolled out at four NHS centres across the UK.

Four NHS trusts have been identified as “beacon” sites, to roll out the new personalised programme, known as “Rehabilitation Enablement in Chronic Heart Failure” or “REACH-HF”.

Approximately 900,000 people are affected by heart failure in the UK, costing the NHS £1bn per year. Although the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (NICE) recommend that all people with heart failure should receive rehabilitation, less than one in 10 do.

Exercise programme

The programme, which was co-designed by clinicians, academics, patients and caregivers to help increase participation in rehabilitation therapies for heart failure patients by bringing care into their own homes, will be monitored and evaluated before it is extended further.

The beacon sites are: University College Hospitals London NHS Foundation Trust, Belfast Health and Social Care Trust, Gloucestershire Care Services, and Wirral Community NHS Foundation Trust. They were chosen for their geographical spread and commitment to offering home based care.

The programme, led by University of Exeter and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS trust, includes a chair-based exercise programme developed by Professor Patrick Doherty from the Department of Health Sciences, as well as a manual with advice on lifestyle and medication. It also provides relaxation techniques designed to help patients and their caregivers come to terms with both the physical and psychological impact of heart failure.

Take control

Professor Doherty said: “The success of this home-based programme now means that clinicians will be able to offer an out of hospital programme that is proven to benefit patients.

“Quality of life, which is huge issue in heart failure, was the primary outcome and was found to improve significantly through the REACH-HF home based programme.

“Tens of thousands of patients are diagnosed with heart failure every year, yet few ever get cardiac rehabilitation. That has all changed with REACH-HF as so many of them will now have a means by which they can take control of this condition and improve their quality of life.”

The programme was developed during a five year study, which received £2 million in grant funding from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) with significant contributions from five NHS hospitals (Cornwall, Gwent, Birmingham, York and Dundee) and three leading UK universities (the universities of York, Exeter and Birmingham) along with input from the Heart Manual Department, NHS Lothian. The research has been supported by the Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care South West Peninsular (PenCLAHRC).