Tackling Arthritis with Exercise at Saints Foundation Pathway to Health

Tackling Arthritis with Exercise at Saints Foundation Pathway to Health

Musculoskeletal conditions encompass different types of arthritis, lower back pain, osteoporosis, gout, etc. They are the most common reason for people living with disability in the UK.

According to Versus Arthritis, These conditions affect the quality of life and work of an estimated 17.8 million people in the UK, which is well over a quarter of the population. There are a number of associated issues linked to the conditions including lack of physical activity, obesity and multimorbidity.

Musculoskeletal conditions also greatly impact on health and care services and the general economy.

Saints Foundation Pathway to Health for Arthritis

Saints Foundation, an independent charity working in partnership with Southampton Football Club, aims to fulfil and change the lives of those at risk across Southampton and surrounding areas. One of their programmes tackles health and wellbeing. Part of this is Pathway to Health.

Jessica Hulbert, Pathway to Health Project Officer for Saints Foundation, is well versed in the issues facing elderly people, researching dance for the elderly as a subject of her University dissertation, working after graduation as a Therapy Technician on the older persons ward at Southampton General Hospital. Then her work focussed more on falls prevention at Hampshire Council Council. She always has had an interest in Arthritis. She explains “Pathway to Health was initially established to help people aged over 50 with the prevention of falls, upskilling community instructors. We quickly realised that there was nothing in place to tackle arthritis. The thing is arthritis also affects younger people not just the elderly.”

The severity of the problem in Southampton is on par with the national estimate with 30.2% of the population living with some form of arthritis according to the MSK Calculator online tool (extract below).

Saints Arthritis Data

Saints Foundation Parthway to Health successfully applied for funding with NHS Southampton City Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG) to set up Pathway to Health Arthritis project, with Escape Pain training included. This will upskill Saints Foundation health and wellbeing staff and local self-employed exercise professionals working in the community, already delivering a variety of exercise classes.

Jessica Hulbert continues: “With the Pathways to Health Falls programme, we are already linked for online referrals with 10 GP surgeries. We are confident these surgeries will also participate to recommend patients into Pathway to Health Arthritis. Currently we are in conversation with the Southampton CCG Musculoskeletal Service who works with individuals diagnosed with Arthritis, but this is a physiotherapy intervention that does have an end to it. The Musculoskeletal Department will then signpost their patients on to the Escape Pain programme initially where they will receive a 6-week intervention that educates them in exercise and pain management education for Arthritis.”

For Jessica, it is important that after these 6 weeks, there is a follow up with patients with trained and qualified exercise professionals. This is when patients will then become part of a community exercise class, making a lifestyle change rather than short term intervention.

Saints Foundation Pathway to Health for Arthritis teaming up with WRIGHT Foundation for CPD training

The project targets exercise professionals and comprises 3-day Arthritis CPD training  with WRIGHT Foundation and a 1-day Escape pain training course. Saints Foundation will support the set up of fitness and exercise classes in the community. The plan is for these classes to be available by the start of April 2019, for a very low fee, to recommended people living in Southampton.

Saints Arthritis pic
Saints Foundation Pathway to Health team at the Exercise Programming for Arthritis and Chronic Lower Back Pain CPD training
At the request of Saints Foundation, WRIGHT Foundation CIC developed Exercise Programming for Arthritis and Lower Back Pain CPD training which was delivered over 3 days at the end of January 2019 and gathered fitness staff from Saints Foundation Pathway to Health programme and local fitness instructors. Jessica concludes, “I am grateful for WRIGHT Foundation for developing and delivering this course. It fits with what we needed. In the longer term, we would like to see exercise classes being set up for people living with any condition: Cancer, Chronic Lower Back Pain, Obesity & Diabetes, etc. The Pathway to Health Arthritis project is only the beginning!”

Lorraine Nicholson, Training Director at WRIGHT Foundation, said “We at WRIGHT Foundation wholeheartedly support the work of the Saints Foundation, their Pathway to Health programme and the Escape Pain Project.  Great people doing  great work for their community and a pleasure to work with.   We are looking forward to working with them on further initiatives in the future.”

For further information on the 3-day Exercise Programming for Arthritis and  Lower Back Pain CPD training, or other WRIGHT Foundation Level 3 Diploma GP Exercise Referral and Level 4 Specialist Conditions courses, please contact us on 01307469055 or info@wrightfoundation.com.

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Northwich Paralympian helps launch project to help people with neurological disorders

Northwich Paralympian helps launch project to help people with neurological disorders
Picture of launch group
Photo courtesy of Winsford Guardian

An exercise programme in West Cheshire has been launched to improve the lives of those living with neurological conditions with the help of WRIGHT Foundation CIC.

Lorraine Nicholson, Training Director at WRIGHT Foundation, said: “This is a very exciting development and we are proud to be associated with it. Please read the full article here.”

For all enquiries, please contact us on 01307 469055 or email lorrainenicholson@wrightfoundation.com

Level 3 Diploma in GP Exercise Referral : Patricia’s story

WRIGHT Foundation CIC introduced the first medically-led  Level 3 Diploma in GP Exercise Referral to the UK. We have been training thousands of gym instructors, personal trainers and health care professionals over the years, growing a workforce with the capability to make a real impact on health and well-being in England, Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland. Level 3 Diploma in GP Exercise Referral courses are recognised by REPs for a CPD value of 20 points and endorsed by CIMSPA for a CPD value of 10 points.

We are starting a series of stories, profiling some of our past students who are flying the flag of GP referral schemes.

Patricia’s story: Making a difference as an Exercise Referral instructor

Patricia Park Yorkshire
Patricia Park, Fitness Instructor, Yorkshire
Patricia Park is a fitness instructor in her local Leisure Centre in Yorkshire. She qualified with WRIGHT Foundation Level 3 Diploma in GP Exercise Referral in 2016. The GP Referral Scheme she works with had already been well set up when she took over from her colleague. The Scheme is very busy with two local GP surgeries referring patients in. Currently Patricia works with more than 20 clients.

Her employer, East Riding Council funded her WRIGHT Foundation course as part of their fitness staff development and because there was a need to continue to service the Scheme with qualified staff.

Patricia explained, “This is a very valuable course and without it, I would not be able to correctly advise and help people who are referred with a varied range of medical conditions. The most common condition referred are often linked to weight management and for me, it is important to give clients the right amount of exercise as not to cause them more pain.

The GP Exercise Referral Scheme also allows GPs to alleviate their workload as exercise is now recognised to help patients who live with medical conditions. As the Gym also carry out health checks, clients get an all-round fitness service in one place.

Level 3 Diploma in GP Exercise Referral: a win-win-win for all concerned

For Patricia, it has been the right career move with enhanced prospect and a higher rate of pay.

Gym instructor assisting woman in her workout.
Gym instructor assisting woman in her workout.
Helping people with medical conditions is a valuable service and can make people’s day to day life much easier and often with less pain.That’s where the training and knowledge comes into play. I am able to adapt exercise and propose alternatives.

The Scheme has also offered many benefits: referred patients tend to stay and become members after the referral period. Coming to the Gym gives them a new lease of life.” said Patricia

As many of Patricia’s clients say,  simply going along and doing some exercise a few times a week has changed their life.

Patricia highly recommends the training she attended with WRIGHT Foundation CIC.  “The lecturer was brilliant, the course covers many common medical conditions and prepares you well to run a Referral Scheme.”

She is continuing her training, currently studying for Cardiac Rehabilitation, Mental Health and Obesity & Diabetes courses.

Lorraine Nicholson
WRIGHT Foundation Training Division Director Lorraine Nicholson
WRIGHT Foundation CIC Training Division Director, Lorraine Nicholson (pictured) shares her views: “At WRIGHT Foundation, we are committed to the concept that Exercise is Medicine and passionate about helping as many people as possible on the road to recovery from a wide range of medical conditions through highly trained individuals with specialist knowledge gained from our courses.  

WRIGHT Foundation courses and its lecturers constantly receive excellent feedback about the quality, thoroughness and delivery. This then provides patients with first class motivated people to help them on the road to recovery and I am very proud to be involved in this.


What is Exercise Referral?

Exercise Referral is a specific and formalised programme whereby a medical or health professional refers a patient to a fitness professional to be given tailored exercise advice, often based within the community.

Exercise Referral helps

  • promote physical activity and exercise to individuals who are living with a medical condition,
  • improve individuals’ health, well-being and lifestyle, and
  • encourage habitual participation for long-term benefits.

Exercise Referral Schemes exist throughout the UK in various shapes and forms, involving hospital, health and medical care teams and services, linking to exercise and phu between medical practices and exercise facilities, such as gyms, leisure centres, etc.

Being part of an exercise referral scheme affords you as an exercise professional the opportunity to play a vital role in the promotion of regular physical activity and exercise participation to individuals with a real need to improve their health and well-being.

Level 3 Diploma in GP Exercise Referral

The current National Occupational Standards (NOS)* states:

‘Instructors who are responsible for designing and delivering structured and tailored physical activity programmes for referred patients or assigning them to an appropriate physical activity must have a range of knowledge and skills specific to the referral process, specified medical conditions and relevant health risk factors related to physical activity participation.’

A Level 3 Diploma in GP Exercise Referral is therefore a sought-after qualification by exercise professionals who want to help their clients improve their health and fitness. The Diploma clarifies the relationship between exercise, medical conditions and medication to allow professionals to deliver a safe and beneficial exercise programme to their clients. Once a person qualifies, they have the tools and skills to establish, or, if already in existence, to continue running a successful referral scheme.

*D463 Design, manage and adapt an exercise and physical activity programme with referred clients


Are you a past student of WRIGHT Foundation? Would you like to be featured on our blog?

Call us on 01307 469055 or drop us a line at info@wrightfoundation.com. We would be delighted to hear about your progress, ask you a few questions and share your story.

For all dates and locations of Level 3 Diploma in GP Exercise Referral courses, check our website wrightfoundation.com