COVID 19 has meant a new beginning for early Cardiac Rehabilitation

Hassan Al-Kaabi Senior Fitness Instructor Oct 2020

I work in Cardiac Rehabilitation in Pontypool, South Wales. Prior to Covid 19 following a cardiac event, patients attended cardiac rehabilitation for eight weeks. This consisted of an exercise and education programme, facilitated by a multi-disciplinary team (MDT); including Cardiac Specialist Nurses, Exercise Specialists, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists and Counsellors.

The impact of Covid 19

In ABUHB there are four sites providing cardiac rehab programmes. During Covid-19, we have had to adapt our service and unfortunately haven’t been able to see patients face to face since late March. We have, however, been conducting our service over the phone; giving patients advice, support and education where possible. There are many limitations to running a service over the phone these include not being able to physically see how our patients are recovering, what exercise capacity they have, not being able to build a rapport with patients, and not providing the best education possible for them.

A new way forward

I am the Chair of the Education Group in our department. This includes a small working group, with members from the MDT looking for innovative ideas to improve our education for patients. As a service we have been sending patients education leaflets, Heart Manuals (a self-management book for cardiac patients), and also providing education over the phone. As a working group we felt that patients were missing out on face to face group education, that helps develop camaraderie among patients and creates opportunities for open Q and A sessions. Therefore, we have put together a new Education package, we have called EducationPlus.


This is a new initiative, aiming to provide a menu-based rehabilitation service. It offers education for patients who may not be able to attend centre-based rehab due to working hours, accessibility, family reasons, lockdown and so on. This menu-based approach enables patients to choose what type of education they receive. New options include our new Facebook Group where patients can interact with each other and ask the team questions. The page will be manned by our cardiac rehab team on a rota-base; with questions responded to within 24 hours. Once patients are discharged, they will be sign posted onto community based cardiac rehab groups, also known as a Phase IV cardiac rehab. We have also set up a ABUHB Cardiac Rehab YouTube channel providing education and exercise videos. The links to these videos will be provided on our Facebook Page, and can also be securely sent to our patients via email, telephone or letter. The Facebook and YouTube resources will be provided alongside the Heart Manual, telephone education and physical resources sent in the post.

We hope that by changing what we do, to give our patients the best possible cardiac rehabilitation   during this difficult time, will help our patients make a good long term recovery.