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Self Care Week: Improving the way cardiac patients access vital rehabilitation services

Posted: 16th November 2020

As part of Self Care Week, an annual awareness campaign which aims to increase people’s ability to look after their own health and wellbeing, we are shining a light on innovators we’re working with who have developed services and products that help people live more independently and practise self-care.

During the COVID-19 enforced lockdown earlier this year, a pilot of the Active+me REMOTE Cardiac Recovery programme at Addenbrooke’s Hospital in Cambridge, quickly adapted to remote delivery to help patients keep up their exercise and manage their recovery thanks to funding from Innovate UK and support from Eastern AHSN.

Active+me REMOTE Cardiac Recovery programme, which can be delivered remotely by Cardiac Rehabilitation Centres, empowers patients to take charge of their own recovery, providing them with standard cardiac rehabilitation care which includes guidance on safe exercise and education on risk factors and lifestyle changes, reinforced by embedded educational resources. In addition, patients are provided with medical monitors to take home and record progress such as activity levels, blood pressure, weight and oxygen saturation. The data from which are uploaded to an app and shared securely with the hospital’s cardiac rehabilitation team using Aseptika’s technology.

Despite the challenge of implementing a pilot during the pandemic, the commitment and focus of all partners to adapt and deliver the programme has led to the successful roll-out of the Active+me REMOTE Cardiac Recovery programme.

The Addenbrooke’s pilot generated valuable data for the programme’s impact, but it wasn’t until Aseptika was accepted onto the Wellbeing Accelerator programme at Sheffield Hallam University’s Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre (AWRC) that the true value of this data were realised.

The AWRC Wellbeing Accelerator, with support from the Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, has funded an independent analysis of the data, which was conducted by an AWRC senior research fellow, Dr Simon Nichols.

Dr Nichols said

“Our evaluation of data from Addenbrooke’s Hospital found participating in cardiac rehabilitation, facilitated using the Active+me REMOTE Cardiac Recovery programme, was associated with an increase in Patient Activation Measure scores. The Patient Activation Measure is a tool used to assess patient knowledge of, and confidence in, managing their health condition.

“There were also reductions in systolic blood pressure, waist circumference, and an increase in self-reported levels of physical activity. These findings are significant in supporting Commissioner decision-making regarding how cardiac rehabilitation services may be provided remotely throughout the second lockdown and beyond.”

Every year the Self Care Forum awards prizes and commendations for exemplary self-care innovation during Self Care Week. This year, the Self Care Forum awards also celebrate good self-care practice for coronavirus initiatives. The Active+me REMOTE Cardiac Recovery programme was Highly Commended in the Coronavirus Innovation 2020 Self Care Forum Awards.

Kevin Auton, Managing Director at Aseptika Ltd said:

“This highly commended award is a ringing endorsement of the benefits of working with a great team of collaborators to deploy the Active+me REMOTE Cardiac Recovery programme for patients. Without the great work and support of the teams at the AWRC, Addenbrooke’s Hospital, Yorkshire & Humber AHSN, Eastern AHSN and Innovate UK, none of this would have been possible.”

The Active+me REMOTE Cardiac Recovery programme incorporates the use by patients of a Blood Pressure Monitor, Pulse Oximeter, Activity Tracker and Smart Scales, linked by Bluetooth to their smart device. One patient using the Active+me REMOTE Cardiac Recovery programme is Cambridgeshire-based Steve King. Steve enrolled onto the pilot in January 2020 after having a triple heart bypass in September 2019. He reflected:

“I had a heart attack in December 2014, which should have been a big wake up call for me but my heart attack was minor and looking back on it now I didn’t recognise I was particularly ill. So, I completed my cardiac rehabilitation and went back to work, without keeping up the exercise programme or making the changes I probably should have made to my diet and lifestyle. Subsequently I found myself needing a triple heart bypass five years later.”

“After my surgery I started my cardiac rehabilitation, but what was different this time was I enrolled onto the Active+me pilot which piqued my interest because of my research background. I also found out that I was borderline type 2 diabetic, which was further motivation to make a change to my lifestyle. Now I measure my weight, blood pressure and blood oxygen levels – all of which I didn’t pay any attention to before – as part of my daily routine. But what interests me most is the trends in my data over time, which I can monitor through the app.”

Steve found the changes brought about in response to the coronavirus pandemic were in fact more beneficial to his rehabilitation:

“After the experience with my blood pressure rising, I decided I would commit to the group fitness classes in the next phase of my rehabilitation, but there was a waiting list for spaces. However, when COVID-19 caused all the fitness classes to be moved onto Zoom the classes could accommodate more people, so I was able to join straightaway. That was a real benefit as I wanted to join the sessions while I was still motivated.”

“One of the things I’ve learnt through my cardiac rehabilitation this time is I’m not great at motivating myself. So, the online fitness classes have been great at holding me accountable and have given me the structure I needed.”

Steve concludes:

“I am really grateful I took part in the pilot; I feel much more self-aware, confident and in control of what I do now.”

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