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NHS staff offered free training in scheme to support heart failure patients affected by COVID-19

Posted on 12 May 2020

NHS staff are being offered free training to deliver a home-based cardiac rehabilitation programme to patients affected by restricted access to services during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Nearly 200,000 people are diagnosed with heart failure in the UK each year. Exercise-based rehabilitation and self-care support are key to recovery, but many patients are currently unable access rehabilitation sessions because they are shielding at home and there is reduced provision of some healthcare services.

Around 20 cardiac rehabilitation teams will be trained to deliver the Rehabilitation Enablement in Chronic Heart Failure (REACH-HF) - a home-based, 12-week programme, devised in conjunction with clinicians, academics, patients and caregivers.

Exercise routines

The programme, developed by researchers at the universities of York, Birmingham and Exeter and the Royal Cornwall Hospitals NHS Trust, in collaboration with NHS Lothian’s Heart Manual Department, includes resources on self-care, a choice of exercise routines and psychological support.

A recent study evaluating the impact of REACH-HF showed it can produce important improvements in health-related quality of life for participants and is also cost-effective for the NHS. The researchers behind the programme believe it can play a crucial role in helping to deliver these benefits for patients affected by the pandemic.

Quality of life

Professor Patrick Doherty, from the Department of Health Sciences at the University of York, who developed the chair based exercise component of the intervention and said: “It’s so important that people with heart failure keep fit and well at home as we know this reduces the chances of being admitted to hospital and improves their quality of life, both of which are vital in tackling Covid-19”

Courses have been set up over the next few weeks to train approximately 20 cardiac rehabilitation teams and further sessions are planned for later in the year. The aim is to have 30 sites, including between 30-60 delivery staff, trained by the end of September. This is in addition to eight cardiac rehabilitation teams in England and Northern Ireland who are already trained to deliver REACH-HF.

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