The Perceptions of Older Patients and their Family or Caregivers Towards Physical Activity and Exercise on a Specialist Geriatric Ward: A Qualitative Study

2020-07-27T11:41:19Z (GMT) by Bláthnaid Mealy
Functional decline or deconditioning is considered the main complication of hospitalisation for older people, often resulting in adverse outcomes. Low levels of activity and mobility accelerate this decline, yet despite this, evidence demonstrates how activity levels of hospitalised older adults remains very low. Family or caregiver involvement may have a positive impact on patient physical activity during a hospital admission. Given the aging population and the likelihood of the problem of hospital associated deconditioning escalating, this study explored older patients and their family or caregiver’s perceptions of physical activity and exercise in hospital as well as what steps should be taken to promote or increase activity levels in this setting.

Aims and Objectives
Aim: To explore hospitalised older adults and their family or caregivers perceptions towards physical activity and exercise during an admission to a hospital Specialist Geriatric Ward.

Objectives: To establish factors which enable or limit older patients being active in hospital. To establish the role family or caregivers play in facilitating physical activity, and to establish how patients and family or caregivers may be supported to increase activity levels during a hospital admission.

A qualitative approach, using semi-structured interviews for patient participants and semi-structured focus groups for family or caregivers was utilised for this study. Eleven patient participants and four family participants took part in this study. A thematic analysis was utilised to allow key themes emerge from the data.

Three similar themes emerged from the data in the patient participant interviews and the family or caregiver focus groups. Personal influences and perceptions of activity, the role of the family or caregiver, and the role of the hospital or staff all played a part in activity levels of older adults in hospital.

Both patients and their family or caregivers had an awareness of the importance of activity and exercise in hospital. More work is needed to encourage and facilitate patient activity and family or caregiver involvement in this.

Implications of findings
More encouragement from medical staff, patient-specific information and opportunities for meaningful activities and exercise are needed to facilitate increased activity in the Specialist Geriatric Ward. Better communication is needed with family and caregivers to enable them to be involved in patient mobility and activity.