As a nation the population is getting older, the number of people over the age of 65 is predicted to rise to 24% by 2035. In 1975 those living past 65 was only 14.1%. This increase is largely due to huge advances in modern medicine and people’s living conditions and lifestyle resulting in people living longer. This impacts in a number of ways, perhaps the most significant being that longer life often results in serious health conditions occurring.

The increase in life expectancy of the population is already having a major impact on the NHS and the economy and in future years this is only likely to become greater. It is therefore vital that we tackle two principal issues; educate people in ways to improve their fitness, diet and lifestyle and find ways to deal with the need for health rehabilitation for those already affected and who will become affected by major health issues. For example, Diabetes is costing the NHS £1.5 million pounds every hour and ranks in the top 5 referrals we receive at Reach for Health.

Reach for Health is striving to make a difference, to do more than just help people live longer, it is dedicated to adding quality of life to those extra years, thereby reduce the impact of major health issues and in turn reduce the cost to the NHS.

It is increasingly acknowledged that effective exercise based health rehabilitation and understanding delivers better outcomes and improved quality of life. It also shows the economic benefits to our local community and across the local health and care systems as a whole in making significant cost savings. Improving an individual’s general health and condition prevents all manner of things happening to them, but in the older population, most specifically, it helps prevent falls; probably the greatest single cost to the NHS.

The Cardio rehabilitation programme running at Reach for Health for people who have had heart attacks or cardiac surgery, has been shown to 3 reduce the risk of death by 18% in the year following the event and reduce re-admissions to hospital by 31%.

Reach for Health also runs groups and classes for people suffering from conditions such as COPD, Parkinson’s and Stroke that are designed to improve the individual’s general health.

The team at Reach for Health achieves this by focusing on the impact that the health condition, developmental difficulty or resulting disability has had on the person’s life. We focus on the person rather than focusing on just their illness. This involves working in partnership with the person’s Health Professional and teaming up with the individual and those important to them. The outcome is to enable them to gain more independence, and allowing them to have an improved level of choice and control over their own lives again.

After a serious illness, operation or injury, you may recover slowly. You may need to regain strength, relearn skills or find new ways of doing things you did before. This is the rehabilitation process we use that helps hundreds of people each year, to equip them for living their lives with lifelong health conditions or trauma. It helps them to fulfil their maximum potential and optimise their contribution to family life, their community and society as a whole.

With the support of our dedicated local doctors, highly skilled nurses and other health professionals, the number of new referrals to Reach for Health has risen to around 500 annually and each year this has been growing by around 10%. To meet this increasing demand we need to expand our services and make them more accessible to more people.