Andy Cole backs King’s wellbeing platform for kidney patient

The footballing legend described the classes as “a great way to stay fit”

Andy Cole doing Pilates

Kidney patients across the country are being asked to pilot a new wellbeing platform that has been co-developed by King’s College Hospital and has the backing of former England centre-forward, Andy Cole.

The free online platform is a collaboration between King's College Hospital, Kidney Research UK and health platform, Beam. Beam for Kidney Disease, nicknamed Kidney Beam, offers patients living with kidney disease a way to improve physical activity and boost their mental health through movement classes and expert advice videos while remaining in their own home.

Former Manchester United footballer Cole, who suffered kidney failure in 2015 and went on to have a transplant three years later, is a big advocate for kidney patients maintaining an active lifestyle. He recently tried out Kidney Beam, which offers participants a range of specially designed movement classes including high intensity interval training (HIIT), Pilates and yoga. “I genuinely believe Kidney Beam is something patients will find useful because ultimately, if you want to stay fit as I do, it’s a great incentive,” he said.

“Mentally, it’s important to me to stay active and fit. I think my workout capacity has gone down, due to only having one functioning kidney, but I say to myself, that’s no excuse not to work out.”
Having tried his first Pilates class, Cole said it was “cool, and not too strenuous.” He described his exercise regime during lockdown as “life-saving” both physically and mentally.

Andy’s Pilates class was led by Sharlene Greenwood, Consultant Physiotherapist in Renal and Exercise Rehabilitation at King’s College Hospital who co-developed Kidney Beam. Until the country was put in lockdown in March, Sharlene and her team were running two weekly classes for 24 patients at King’s but she grew concerned when the classes had to be withdrawn due to the Covid-19 pandemic.

She said, “During lockdown, I became increasingly worried about my patients with kidney disease who were shielding at home. There were real concerns about physical and mental wellbeing, and many patients reported missing coming to our renal rehab classes that we offer at King’s College Hospital, and having that interaction with people. At the time, I was also working on the frontline and seeing many patients with kidney disease who had been admitted to hospital with COVID-19. The rehabilitation needs for this patient group, not only at King’s but across the country, was very apparent.”

Sharlene linked with the online health platform, Beam to develop a service specifically for patients with kidney disease. “Kidney Beam is an excellent opportunity to bring something novel and exciting to the kidney community at a time when it is most needed,” It also offers expert advice videos for kidney patients on topics such as sleep, mindfulness and social isolation, and art therapy classes too.”

Funding from Kidney Research UK will enable the team from King’s to test the Beam platform over the next few months.

Sandra Currie, Chief Executive of Kidney Research UK, said, “When the team from King’s College Hospital asked us to support this pilot, we could see enormous potential of the project, and were delighted to respond quickly. Right now, it is more important than ever to give kidney patients options to keep moving and explore new ways to maintain good mental health. We think the platform will give patients an easy, fun way to improve their health by bringing the experts, friends and health studio to them, wherever they are,” said Sandra. “And the more people who join, the more evidence we will have to help secure the platform’s future to benefit all,” she added.

Kidney Beam, which delivers live and on-demand services, is hosted by specialist kidney professionals, including renal physiotherapists and renal counsellors, from a number of different NHS Trusts and backgrounds, as well as people living with kidney disease. It is aimed at anyone over 16, with any ability, any kidney condition, and at any stage of kidney disease. All classes have a fitness rating so patients can choose the right level from them. Before and after the classes, patients can chat to other patients and the instructors, building new friendships to help with motivation.

Ciara Roberts, integrative health practitioner and yoga teacher leads the yoga classes. King’s patient Ciara was diagnosed with kidney disease at the age of four and recently had her second kidney transplant. She said, “Kidney Beam is a fabulous new online platform, designed with the heartfelt intention to help those with a range of kidney issues feel better. Through a variety of classes, you get to choose what works for you, knowing you are in safe hands with people who understand kidney health in a supportive, fun and understanding environment.”

Kidney patients from across the UK can sign up via the Kidney Beam webpage.