Sparwood to continue the ‘walking program’

The 'walking program', a physiotherapy program hosted at the Sparwood Leisure Centre, will continue through the District of Sparwood.

In recent years, Interior Health has hosted a physiotherapy program in Sparwood, held at the Leisure Centre. The program is known locally as ‘the walking program’ according to Duane Lawrence, Director of Community & Facility Services.  With the help of the program, residents of the Elk Valley could receive onsite help from a physiotherapist.

Because of budget issues, Interior Health was unable to rent the hall for the program from the District of Sparwood.

“Due to budgetary constraints for Interior Health they were unable to continue to rent the facility from the District of Sparwood,” said Lawrence.

This started a conversation between the District, Interior Health, and the community’s local physiotherapist. The result is continued physiotherapy support at the same location for existing and new clients at the same times, and a $30 monthly fee for qualifying members.

The average rehab program lasts three months then participants are transitioned out. The new program invites participants to continue their exercises at the same facility with indirect supervision. The program will have no charge for prescribed rehabilitation.

“What we are doing is charging a $30 a month registration for the program.  Now they typically do three months of rehab through this program and then they are transitioned out.  But for this new program they are welcomed to continually access the program just under indirect supervision from the physiotherapist so that she can focus her attention on the new clients that are coming,” said Lawrence.

Before the $30 a month registration was implemented, there was no direct cost to the programs users. Interior Health rented the facility, but the District of Sparwood has started to rent the facility and implemented the registration cost.

“There wasn’t [a cost] to the clients but there was to the Interior Health. So they basically rented the facility, and I am not sure if they were charging internally but there is really no cost,” said Lawrence. “The physiotherapist will be covered under the Interior Health Association (IHA) and the facility covered under the District of Sparwood.”

There will be an increase in offerings from the single program and they will be amalgamating the resistance-base and cardiovascular training courses, which were previously offered at the Sparwood Interior Health Office, to the Fitness Centre at the Leisure Centre.

“One of the reasons we have chosen to do that under the same type of program is that a lot of people have difficulty transitioning locations after the end of their physiotherapy.”

The first three months or prescribed rehabilitation will continue to have no charge. The program aims to provide a place for participants to continue their exercises with a pass that would be purchased.

“What we are hoping is that after they finish their three months of rehab or the duration of it they will then be able to continue to access the leisure centre with a pass they would have to purchase.  But it is at the same location, so this will increase the likelihood of them continuing on with the exercise therapy after the formal program has ended,” said Lawrence.

On behalf of the District of Sparwood, Lawrence hopes that their new campaign “prescription for health” catches on in the community.

It is designed for physicians and practitioners to also prescribe activity as a part of a patient’s medication plan. The District plans to offer access passes at a reduced cost with proof of prescription for a three-month time period at a 55 per cent discount.

“Physicians and practitioners are prescribing people with chronic illness and injuries exercise as a part of their treatment,” said Lawence.