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Unlocking Better Health:

ESCAPE-pain programme featured in Chief Medical Officer's annual report

We were delighted to see ESCAPE-pain recognised in the Chief Medical Officer’s (CMO)’s annual report, ‘Health in an Ageing Society’, as an example of the type of preventive, community-based initiative that is needed to meet the healthcare challenges of the UK’s ageing population.

ESCAPE-pain is an award-winning group rehabilitation programme for people with chronic joint pain that integrates educational self-management and coping strategies with an exercise regimen individualised for each participant. It is delivered to small groups of people in leisure and community centres by physiotherapy and fitness professionals who have been trained by the ESCAPE-pain team. To date over 20,000 people have benefited from the ESCAPE-pain programme, which has been proven to reduce pain, improve mobility and in some cases, mitigate the need for joint surgery. It is also an integral part of the MSK Hubs programme, which recently secured £1.4m of funding from UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) as part of the Healthy Ageing Challenge to investigate how to transform leisure facilities into musculoskeletal (MSK) hubs which can be accessed in every community.

This focus on ‘every community’ is important. The CMO’s message for policymakers, highlights concern about the disparate geographic concentration of resources for older adults. He states, ‘The great majority of people move out of cities and large towns before older age, concentrating geographically in coastal, semi-rural or peripheral areas, often with relatively sparse services and transport links. Manchester, Birmingham, and London will age very slowly but areas such as Scarborough, North Norfolk or the south coast are going to age rapidly and predictably. Providing services and environments suitable for older adults in these areas is an absolute priority if we wish to maximise the period all older citizens have in independence. The provision of health and social care also needs to be concentrated in these areas.’

The flexibility of the ESCAPE-pain programme, which can be delivered in a wide range of leisure settings from village halls to local sports halls, offers a solution to this geographical challenge. It is also being delivered virtually via video conferencing, although the face-to-face group experience, in which participants support and encourage each other, is the preferred delivery model. It is also opening-up additional healthcare capacity at a time when our more traditional healthcare facilities are under severe pressure.

However, despite winning awards and transforming the lives of thousands of people, the aims of the ESCAPE-pain programme must become even more ambitious. We believe that everyone experiencing chronic joint point should be able to access an ESCAPE-pain programme within easy reach of where they live. This means we need more community venues and even more facilitators, especially among (level 3 and above) fitness professionals.

Please visit our website and have a look at your local provision via our site locations maps: ESCAPE-pain for knees/hips and ESCAPE-pain for backs. We would love to hear from you, please contact us at: