A pioneering project led by a Royal Surrey County Hospital Physiotherapist is changing the way pre-surgical cancer patients are being looked after.
Rachel Brown, who has worked at the Trust for 10 years started investigating how a prehabilitation routine would best support surgical patients in 2014. By increasing fitness levels before they reached surgery, patients could expect reduced recovery times, improved emotional wellbeing and a network of fellow patients with whom they could share experiences.
Having secured funding from Macmillan in 2017, Rachel and the team were able to roll their prehabilitation programme out to a selection of cancer patients who had recently received their diagnoses. These patients were invited to a number of face-to-face events including two weekly gym sessions and a weekly wellbeing group where patients were given the opportunity to discuss healthy eating, what to expect from their surgery, how to handle the recovery process and how they can try to achieve a good night’s sleep from a Macmillan funded Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapist and Dietician (Allied Health Professionals).
“Patients are referred to us by Consultants and Specialist Nurses and we meet with them at the beginning of their cancer treatment to give them the advice, tools and support they need to improve their wellbeing, both physically and emotionally.”
Patients are encouraged to continue their tailored exercise programme during their treatment. Rachel said:
“We’ve known for a long time the benefits of physical activity and even light exercise can have a really positive effect on patients going through treatment.”
Initial feedback shows that 100% of participants in the pilot would recommend the Trust’s prehabilitation programme to other patients and for those patients that live too far to travel to Guildford twice a week, the team runs a home-based programme which consists of telephone consultations, home based exercise programmes and wellbeing sessions held at an alternative satellite centre.
The programme is unique in that it is run by Allied Health Professionals (Physiotherapists, Occupational therapists, Dieticians etc) which ensures a system of continual, wraparound care for patients and a service that can support the care being given by Consultants and Specialist Nurses.
The Royal Surrey County Hospital’s Professional Director of Innovation and Transformation, Dr Piers Johnston said:
“The amazing work that this multi-disciplinary team have been doing over the last two years, with Macmillan’s support, has made a significant difference to over 200 patients’ pre-operative preparation, both physical and psychological, for major surgery. This is a class-leading service that we are integrating with our already internationally renowned Enhanced Recovery after surgery programme.”
To date, the prehabilitation programme at the Trust has been so successful that when the Macmillan funding lifespan ended in August 2019, the Royal Surrey County Hospital adopted the service.
The Trust is sharing the story as part of a week-long celebration to launch a change in its name.
The Trust started providing adult community health services for Guildford and Waverley in April 2018 and has decided to change its name, from Royal Surrey County Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, to just Royal Surrey NHS Foundation Trust.