Dancing on the Table, thanks to physio students

23 May 2013 | Story by Newsroom

Rehoboth old age homeUp and away: Residents of Rehoboth Age Exchange and GH Starke homes for the aged in Hanover Park enjoyed a trip to the top of their world, thanks to UCT physiotherapy students and their supervisor in the Division of Physiotherapy, and the Table Mountain Aerial Cableway.

The day before she turned 83 on 15 May, Margaret Bell danced on top of Table Mountain.

She was not alone.

Twenty-six companions from the Rehoboth Age Exchange and GH Starke centres for the aged in Hanover Park joined her, an impromptu expression of joy at finding themselves on top of their world.

Before last week's outing, most had never visited a wonder of nature.

But all that changed, thanks to a group of UCT third-year physiotherapy students and their clinical educator, assigned to a clinical '˜block' placement at the centre. They provide individual client and group assessments, focusing treatment on specific modalities and group exercise classes.

Their programme gets residents up and about and exercising, improving their functional capacity and reducing psychosocial ailments like depression.

The outing up Table Mountain (which also included occupational therapist Danielle van der Spuy and staffers from Rehoboth), went a long way to improving mood among the group, encouraging community integration and participation - while maintaining fitness levels.

"The idea [to go up Table Mountain] came after a cooling-down session after an exercise class when I asked the residents how many of them had managed to visit one of the world's natural wonders," said clinical educator Fahmida Harris of the Division of Physiotherapy. "I was truly surprised that people as old as 80 hadn't had this opportunity, not even once."

Harris managed to obtain 35 tickets, fully sponsored by the Table Mountain Cableway.

Harris' job at the centre is to supervise students and ensure optimal learning and development. And she's delighted with the results of the excursion.

"We achieved all our goals; the students participated in a social responsibility project and enhanced their learning in the area of geriatric management. And the Rehoboth residents had a ball."

"It showed that physiotherapy is not only about the body," said student Katleho '˜Maxwell' Limakatso. "We recognise its contribution to both physical and mental health. Some residents never explore areas outside the home. Our aim is to provide services that promote the overall health and well-being of our seniors."

Fellow students who worked at the centre were Kalya Samie and Siphelihle Mhlana.

Speaking at the cable car, birthday girl Bell said: "These are such wonderful people from UCT. They come and give us physio and they promised to take us up there and today it came to pass. Miss Harris and the group, they're so lovely that the exercises don't make you tired. It helps you. I want to thank the students for making Rehoboth '˜age in action'!"

"Hulle gee ons oefening - en hulle laat ons dans ook!!" added 74-year-old fellow resident Aysa Gordon.

(Helen Swingler)

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