“When Life Gives You Lemons” – Online Exercise Sessions a Hit With Rehab Patients

Eilis O’Haire, top right, leading the online cardiac rehabilitation exercise class.


You know those “every cloud has a silver living” type of people?

Well, COVID-19 is a time for those people to shine.

Eilis O’Haire is one of those people.

As a Physiotherapist, whose job usually relies so much on physical, face-to-face interaction with patients, you might have thought that the physical distancing restrictions of the pandemic would have greatly hampered her ability to continue doing her work.

But back in the earliest days of the pandemic our Allied Health team, of which Eilis is part, moved quickly to a program of telehealth, phone consultations and COVID-tailored visits to make sure their clients kept up with their healthcare and rehabilitation programs.

“Wouldn’t it be great if the lessons we are learning through COVID make it easier for more people to access healthcare services in the future?”

But rather than just being a response to COVID, Eilis is already seeing the potential positive applications video and online technology could have well beyond the current time.

“I’m quite excited by the possibility of this being ongoing,” she said. “By doing more over the phone and online video we’d be able to reach more people in the broader community who for whatever reason, whether it be access to transport, illness, or mobility issues, are unable to attend face to face sessions.”

One of the great stories of the Allied Health team’s telehealth revolution is the online cardiac rehabilitation exercise group.

This is a group of people recovering from having had a cardiac procedure, or who have been diagnosed with a heart condition.

The sessions are run completely online by a Physiotherapist and an Allied Health Assistant, and include a safety chat, warm up and cool down, exercise session and constant support and motivation.

The exercises are tailored to the individual with modifications demonstrated so that there is something for everyone. The exercise session can sometimes be followed by a Dietetics education session.

“Since COVID-19 came onto the scene cardiac rehab has completely changed,” Eilis said.

But, looking at the faces of the participants in their new online cardiac rehab exercise group, you’d be hard pressed to say that change has been all bad.

“Being able to attend in the privacy of my own home has been very convenient,” said cardiac rehab patient Carl Bennett. “Telehealth cardiac rehab helps me to get started for the day, and gives me more energy. I work at my own pace, and the exercise is low impact on my arthritic hip.”

But isn’t it strange working out with a computer? Not all, says Carl.

“I find the Telehealth group experience is friendly and welcoming,” he said, echoing the comments of the other participants.

No doubt the fun and vibrancy of the Telehealth sessions is due in large part to Eilis and her Allied Health team members, who are renowned by their clients and colleagues both for their energetic, positive attitude and for just generally being nice people to know.

That positive attitude has already got Eilis thinking about making lemonade from lemons.

“Wouldn’t it be great if the lessons we are learning through COVID – like how to provide good telehealth rehab sessions – make it easier for more people to access healthcare services in the future?”

If you’d like to learn more about the services our Allied Health team provides, visit brhs.com.au/service/allied-health-services, email allied.health@brhs.com.au or call 5150 3388.