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PIVOT: Promoting Increased physical actiVity in hospitalised Older adults with
Trained volunteers

NIHR Advanced Fellowship Award: Dr Stephen Lim, Consultant Geriatrician University Hospital

Southampton NHS Foundation Trust and NIHR Clinical Lecturer in Geriatric Medicine University of Southampton

Team: Dr Samantha Meredith Research Fellow, University of Southampton, Dr Beth Stuart Clinical Trials Unit statistician, University of Southampton

Aim(s) of the research

To determine whether hospital volunteers can be trained to engage older people in

hospital to be more active. We want to know if this intervention will work in different

hospitals and explore factors that will support or prevent it from being delivered


Background to the research

Between 30 and 60% of older people in hospital are at risk of losing muscle strength and function, known as deconditioning. This reduces their ability to look after themselves independently.

Low physical activity level contributes to deconditioning but dedicated physical activity sessions can benefit older inpatients. In most studies, physical activity is led by paid staff. New ideas are needed to ensure additional physical activity sessions are costeffective and sustainable. The Southampton Mobility Volunteer study showed that trained volunteers can safely engage older inpatients to be more active. However, more information is needed on how to make this approach accessible to more people in more hospitals.

Design and methods used

Hospital inpatients aged 65 years and older will be invited to participate in the study. We will conduct the study in four hospitals. The hospitals will be different in size and from a wider region to include a range of population groups from different settings and context. This is so that different social groups are represented, and the research will be more representative of the wider population. We will use one hospital as a ‘control site’ – where patients will not get volunteer input – to compare our findings against.

Volunteers will encourage participants who can walk independently to walk twice daily. Patients who need help with walking will do bedside exercises. They will be encouraged to walk once they can do so independently.

We want to know whether trained volunteer delivered exercise sessions are feasible and acceptable to hospitals. We will determine this by collecting data on volunteer recruitment and training, patient recruitment and the walking/ exercises intervention. We will interview patients, staff, and volunteers as the intervention is delivered to

establish what worked well and what could be improved.

Other outcomes will include physical abilities, muscle strength, length of stay and readmission rates. We will analyse how much money it costs the NHS to deliver the intervention.

Patient/service user, carer and public involvement

The James Lind Alliance Priority Setting Partnership has highlighted promoting of independence, and physical and emotional well-being as 2 of the top 3 key research priorities for older adults.

More specifically, our PPI research with 92 older people showed that 45% of them had experience with hospital volunteers and all spoke highly of their contribution. Most respondents thought volunteers could be trained to help with mobility.

My feasibility study (SoMoVe study) confirmed the volunteer-led intervention was acceptable to patients, volunteers, and staff in one hospital. Patients were grateful that the volunteers encouraged them to be more active. Staff members valued the work of the volunteers.

This proposal was developed with the support of 2 public researchers, the volunteer services manager and a hospital therapy lead. The study protocol and study documents will be developed with PPI collaboration. 2 public researchers will be invited to join the study steering group. PPI input will be paid at INVOLVE rates.


Findings from this study will be shared through conferences, academic papers/reports, and media/social media. In collaboration with the Academic Health Science Network, we will share our findings with commissioners, providers of care and voluntary organisations. Study findings will be of interest to voluntary services, healthcare

professionals, and directorate managers. A collection of resources will be produced to encourage the adoption of this intervention in other settings.

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