Recently Recovery Station hosted Kerstin Schroeder as part of a Rotary Group Study Exchange with Germany. Kerstin is one of 5 professionals embarking on this unique cultural and vocational exchange opportunity to experience Australia’s way of life, observe their own vocations as practised abroad, develop personal and professional relationships and exchange ideas.
Kerstin is a sports therapist, who shared some interesting insights into her country’s healthcare system. In Germany, GPs prescribe exercise to their patients before both medications and surgical options are considered. Often most effective and always less expensive, the prescription of exercise is becoming more popular. Patients will be funded by their private health insurer to attend 50 – 120 sessions of 45 minutes duration, often carried out over a year or more with some patients visiting 1 to 2 times per week.
The various groups include back pain, post joint replacements, cardio and falls prevention. There are no conventional 6 or 12 week programs, which is the standard in Australia, instead the group can be joined at any time and the therapists are able to change the program weekly. Kerstin said that this way it keeps things interesting for participants and clinicians, as they are always looking for new exercises, equipment and interventions for the groups each week. Currently around 1200 patients participate in groups weekly.
Interestingly, falls prevention groups are only run in Summer as the icy outdoor conditions in Winter are a slip hazard to participants. Kerstin has also been recently involved in a new group – dancing walkers, for the elderly – using music, rhythm, singing and having a lot of fun, hopefully this non-funded group will be a hit into the future.
As with most programs, there is an issue with non-attendance, however when this occurs the patient has to pay for the cost out of their own pocket. Kerstin also mentioned that they have a sauna that the patients can use after a session to relax. I wonder if this helps in people coming back?? Sounds like a draw card to me!