King’s gives older patients a boost to get active

27 September 2022 - Two thirds of patients with painful bone, muscle and joint conditions taking part in the novel pilot project, reported improvements in their health

Swimming pool

A year-long community-based project has helped improve the lives of South East Londoners with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions.

The Good Boost Project launched in Southwark in April 2021, and was led by King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust rehabilitation clinicians, physiotherapists and hospital volunteers. The project aimed to give patients living with long-term MSK conditions (conditions affecting the joints, bones and muscles), those recovering from joint replacement surgery, as well as older patients, the opportunity to keep active.

The one-year project, which was also trialled by Kingston Hospital, was funded by the Health Innovation Network (HIN) South London. King’s College Hospital patients were offered a personalised water-based exercise programme, developed using Artificial Intelligence, based on their health condition, fitness level and confidence in the water.

Four fifths (80%) of participants were in the poorest two income quintiles, and 84% were black or Asian. Almost half were living with another long-term health condition. The programme was aimed at people who were not regularly involved in physical activity, with 55% of participants reporting they were inactive before they started.

After just five months, two-thirds of participants reported an improvement in their health; almost a quarter reported improvements in their functional capacity; and more than a fifth reported a reduction in pain levels.

Nicky Wilson, Consultant Physiotherapist at King’s College Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, explained: “This project began in the second COVID-19 national lockdown to make sure that people with MSK conditions could continue to keep active and well.

“Delivering the Good Boost Project in the heart of the community is increasing opportunities for people with MSK conditions to access rehabilitation, widen their social support networks, and embed regular ongoing physical activity into their lives, which will improve and maintain their health. It’s hugely exciting and humbling to see the impact the programme is having.”

Dorothy Oxley, 74, from East Dulwich, was invited to take part in the project after undergoing knee surgery in October 2021. She said: “My operation on my knee had left me with mobility problems, and I was determined to get my independence back. So when my physiotherapist mentioned the Good Boost Project, I was delighted to take part.

“I'm glad I signed up, because it really did help me build my confidence and become more mobile. Being in the water meant I wasn’t worried about losing my balance and falling, and everyone in the group supported each other. It truly was a boost.”