The Kent and Medway Prehabilitation Programme is a trail-blazing programme that aims to improve the health and fitness of cancer patients, through exercise, nutritional advice and psychological support to help people lose weight, improve fitness and feel mentally strong and ready for their treatment.
The programme which started as a hospital-based pilot, has quickly adapted to the challenge of Covid-19 by offering the same extensive support online.
Exercise advice is delivered through video-guided resistance training sessions, patients receive phone calls twice-a-week from the exercise physiologists and the psychology professionals, and they are also referred on to other virtual support services such as smoking cessation and alcohol reduction services.
The virtual service is available to all cancer patients in Kent and Medway before they undergo surgery or cancer treatment such as chemotherapy, radiotherapy or immunotherapy. These simple health interventions also have a proven effect on the recovery time of patients after surgery
The service, which has its own patient feedback steering group to help shape its development, has received really positive feedback, not just about the practical features of the service, but the mental wellbeing aspects of having regular contact with a healthcare professional to support any feelings of stress and anxiety while coming to terms with a cancer diagnosis during the Covid-19 pandemic.
Results from the first three months of the online service delivered during the pandemic have shown:
- 100 per cent compliance with the individually-prescribed exercise programmes proves that virtual prehabilitation is as effective as a face-to-face service.
- Improved connectivity for patients who are shielding or isolated
- Improved mental health through the increase and regularity of physical exercise
The service for patients across the county is delivered by Medway Council in partnership with Public Health England and funded by the Kent and Medway Cancer Alliance.
It will be offered face-to-face to all Kent residents newly diagnosed with cancer when government (Covid-19) guidance allows.
GPs, cancer care and healthcare professionals can refer patients to this service via the website: www.kentandmedwayprehab.org. Patients can also self-refer via the website.