Vitality360 is interested in therapeutic approaches that get people better, and enable them to gain control of their health and lead a life that is as full and active as possible. We are interested in therapies that we see produce tangible results in practice, and therapies that genuinely change lives.
So what does work?
In our work with individual patients and patient groups, we’ve always been keen to find out which approaches seem to work and which approaches don’t. We’ve discovered that people don’t like to be pushed too hard or too fast, and they don’t like rigid and immovable programmes. People appreciate being heard and being in control of their own programme. They want to stop or pause when they need to. As a consequence, we ensure our work is always underpinned by a collaborative approach where the person we’re working with is respected as the centre of their programme.
Flexibility and Stability
It is usually the case that the conditions we work with fluctuate. Sometimes these fluctuations can feel like being on a seesaw, or a rough voyage with no anchor. Sometimes there are moments of stability and clarity, but the smallest setback can knock someone off balance again. Therapy therefore needs to work in harmony with the ebb and flow of the condition whilst at the same time trying to create the stability that is needed to provide a firm base from which health can be built upon. We believe that therapy needs to respond to changes in sleep, personal circumstances and symptoms, whilst ensuring a structured and stable routine where possible. It is often about stopping people over-doing it when they feel better, and encouraging them to keep to their programme whenever they can.
What does a programme involve?
A programme involves an initial assessment, during which together we take out a metaphorical magnifying glass and try to work out which factors are causing or influencing the presenting symptoms. We look at what physical activity the individual is doing, how they are coping with it, and how it makes them feel. We will also explore sleep, activity patterns, and diet. We are also interested in finding out what makes them feel better and worse. We will ask about how they and the people around to them are coping, and what strategies they have already tried. We might ask about other personal circumstances and sources of stress or worry, such as finances or relationships. Whilst we may not deal with all of these issues directly, getting to know a person and understanding the full context of their life is critical. We are also keen to explore what is particularly important to the person, and what they would specifically like to achieve from our work together. We would carry out a brief and gentle physical assessment to understand what specific physical problems they are having.
A plan is then drawn up, to map out a personalised programme according to what they specifically want to achieve. For one person, they may need more or a better quality of sleep, whilst another would benefit from sleeping less overall. One person may need some specific emotional support, whilst another is fine emotionally but needs to build up their physical strength. Some people are doing too much for their physical capacity and need to be held back a little in some areas, whilst others may need support in becoming gently more active. There will be focus on physical activity, as we know that at the right ‘dose’ this will make a difference, particularly when the activity is frequent and then built up in duration and intensity at the right time. Sessions then involve discussing and planning activity, and talking about specific issues that are important. It is much more about what is done in between sessions than about the session itself. Sporting activity and aerobic exercise is only planned for people who are capable of exercising aerobically and who want to do so.
A programme usually consists of up to 15 sessions, spread out over a year or so. Because of the practicalities around traveling, we often support people over the phone or through the internet. We also visit people at home, or see them face-to-face in our clinics. Sessions tend to last an hour.
A Supportive Structure
We respect hugely what it takes to stick to a planned programme of activity. Good health doesn’t just come naturally. It will involve close examination of activities, sleep, and diet and it is likely to be a bit of a challenge at times to do things differently. Therefore, we endeavor to listen to the ups and downs, whilst at the same time providing support to keep the programme on track, and celebrating the person’s achievements as the programme progresses.
There is no crystal ball that will predict how much better any one person will get. However, underpinning our work is a sense that things can improve for everyone. Evidence and experience tells us clearly that people can and do improve with the right support and structure. We have seen many people recover fully after participating in rehabilitation programmes, and many more lead full and active lives despite their symptoms. Whilst everyone’s circumstances and outcomes are different, we believe that everyone has the ability to make changes that make a real and lasting difference to their health.
We see tangible and significant results with the people we work with every day, and this is why we love our work. It’s really amazing to get a postcard from an ex-patient on their dance holiday, or to be asked to sponsor someone we are working with for their 5K run. It’s wonderful to hear the excitement when someone tells us they’ve been out to dinner for the first time in 9 years, or that they are not only back at work but have been awarded a promotion. It’s great knowing that we were able to help them make those changes, and knowing that our work brings vitality and wellbeing back into people’s lives.