Working better together: Group physio program finding success

A unique Alberta Health Services (AHS) physiotherapy program in Cold Lake is nearing its one year anniversary and being deemed as a success for both patients and staff.

The Post-Operative Hip and Knee Program in Cold Lake offers physiotherapy in a group setting to clients requiring rehabilitation support after, for example, a hip or knee replacement. It launched in Cold Lake in September 2017 and is the only site in the AHS North Zone that offers this type of physiotherapy in a group setting.

“Group therapy can help make the treatment more fun and enjoyable for the clients. They experience peer support and it gives them the opportunity to socialize and spend time with people who can relate to what they are going through,” says Sharon Winik, Area Manager, Allied Health Services with AHS. “Offering this therapy in a group setting is a great way of doing things a little differently, while meeting patient needs and maximizing on our staff resources.”

The program has served 20 clients since it launched last year and has been working closely with clients and their families to receive their input and continuously improve the program. To date, approximately 80 per cent of participants have reported clinical improvements in their mobility, function, pain and mood.

Albert Oullette, 79, says he enjoyed his time in the group not only for the physical therapy after his hip replacement in February, but also the social aspect of the program.

“I thought the group was better than one-on-one. It felt more like you were at home,” he says. “Everybody had a smile, they were very friendly, and we were all talking to each other.”

With a continuous intake and classes that run every week, clients are able to join the program in a timely way after their surgery.

“We’re a small rural team and this is an innovative approach to maximize what we’re able to do for our patients,” says physical therapist Lesley Vivian, who runs the program with the help of a physio assistant.

Patients can be referred to the program by their family physician or surgeon, or they can also self-refer.

“We’re so pleased to be offering this program,” says Cindy Harmata, AHS Senior Operating Officer, Areas 5-8. “It is an excellent example of patient-centred care in that it was built for patients, incorporates their feedback, and creates a community of peer-to-peer support.”

One-on-one post-operative hip and knee physiotherapy sessions are still available to clients in the community, if preferred. For more information about the Post-Operative Hip and Knee program contact the Cold Lake Healthcare Centre at 780-639-6518.