Enabling Self-management and Coping
with Arthritic Pain using Exercise

COVID-19 Support

For trained ESCAPE-pain facilitators, that delivered face-to-face classes before COVID-19, there are a number of ways in which you can support your ESCAPE-pain participants/waiting lists to manage their condition until you are able to resume face-to-face classes. Please see below for the range of options. 


This is an ever-changing landscape and we really appreciate the correspondence we’ve had with you and your engagement over the past months, which we know have been very challenging. We'd be grateful if you could keep us updated with any further progress at your sites by emailing hello@escape-pain.org


1. National guidance for delivering clinical interventions

If you were considering delivering the programme at this time, and if delivering virtual classes is not an option for you, you may want to consider delivering face-to-face classes in line with the guidance below.


Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

(Information taken directly from the CSP website)

  • The CSP is advising members in all sectors that they can continue to run physiotherapy services during the national lockdown, unless the government explicitly instructs them to stop treating patients. All relevant public health rules relating to social distancing and PPE must be followed to keep clinicians and patients as safe as possible.
  • Draft lockdown regulations were made public on the 4th November. 
  • To give members outside the NHS the clarity many have asked for, the CSP has sought assurance from Public Health England that all health care can continue in England. We continue to press for this confirmation and have been advised that it has to come from the Cabinet Office.
  • The prime minister signalled that non-Covid NHS services would continue to run during lockdown.
  • Health services, including those in the charity and private sectors, continued in higher level areas of England when restrictions were applied. Services based in gyms, leisure or sporting venues, and all non-clinical services, are expected to have to close in England during the lockdown period.
  • Some very limited exceptions may be granted for organised therapy sessions for people with long term conditions or mental health issues.
  • As clarity is provided by PHE or the government, the CSP website will be updated.

For those in Wales please see this piece on the CSP website detailing the new rules as the firebreak lockdown ends.

You may also find this article helpful in deciding how to proceed, ‘Face-to-face or remote consultations: supporting you to make safe decisions about patient contact’.


Gov.uk site 

The government website describes some exemptions for this lockdown:

  • Some venues will be allowed to remain open for specific exempt activities, like childcare and support groups. Support groups that are essential to deliver in person can continue with up to 15 participants where formally organised to provide mutual aid, therapy or any other form of support. This includes support to victims of crime, people in drug and alcohol recovery, new parents and guardians, people with long-term illnesses, people facing issues relating to their sexuality or gender, and those who have suffered bereavement.


2. ESCAPE-pain Online

ESCAPE-pain Online is the web-based version of the ESCAPE-pain app. It is a digital version of the face-to-face programme and provides users with a structured education and exercise programme of 12 sessions over six weeks. There are two compulsory sessions per week and they are a combination of education and exercise. It can be viewed on a range of mobile devices (like smartphones and tablets) but is best viewed on a computer. It is especially helpful for people who would prefer to view the programme on a larger screen or who don’t have access to a smart phone.

It was originally designed as an aide memoir for ESCAPE-pain participants to use after they had completed the face-to-face programme, however, in light of COVID-19 and many ESCAPE-pain sites not yet having re-started their face-to-face classes, we feel these tools may be of benefit to a much wider audience of people living with knee/hip pain/osteoarthritis who have not previously attended a face-to-face class. 


3. ESCAPE-pain app - Android

Similarly, the ESCAPE-pain app is a digital version of the face-to-face programme and provides users with a structured education and exercise programme of 12 sessions over six weeks. There are two compulsory sessions per week and they are a combination of education and exercise. It is available on Android smartphones and tablets. Just search ESCAPE-pain on Google Play. 

It was originally designed as an aide memoir for ESCAPE-pain participants to use after they had completed the face-to-face programme, however, in light of COVID-19 and many ESCAPE-pain sites not yet having re-started their face-to-face classes, we feel these tools may be of benefit to a much wider audience of people living with knee/hip pain/osteoarthritis who have not previously attended a face-to-face class. 


4. ESCAPE-pain videos

These videos were developed for the ESCAPE-pain digital tools, the app and ESCAPE-pain Online (our web-based app). We have made the videos freely available so that people don’t need to create an account to view them and for people who don’t wish to follow a structured programme (like the app and ESCAPE-pain Online) and just want a reminder of how to do an exercise.

The exercise videos are designed so that the exercises could be done in a home setting using everyday household items like chairs or steps. They are simple and easy to follow with audio instructions. 

The educational videos – these videos can be viewed at any time to learn more about your joint pain. They give simple advice and information to help people learn about how to better manage their condition. 


5. Deliver the programme virtually

Many facilitators have been speaking to us about delivering a virtual programme based on ESCAPE-pain and some have already completed their first cohort. We have had in-depth conversations with these sites and have pulled together their early experiences into a new FAQ resource. If you would like a copy of this please contact the central team on hello@escape-pain.org. This information will be updated over time as we learn more about this model.

We are supporting sites to run virtual programmes where they are delivered in the following way. 

  • sessions are delivered twice weekly;
  • sessions are delivered across an interactive platform which allows facilitators and participants to speak to one another;
  • there is a fixed cohort starting and finishing together;
  • the education and exercise sessions are delivered in real time;
  • clinical outcomes are collected.

Please note that virtual classes delivered in this way may only be offered by trained facilitators who were delivering the face-to-face programme prior to lockdown. This does not include facilitators who have attended virtual ESCAPE-pain facilitator training during lockdown.


6. Video resources - a 10-session abridged version of the programme


Image of the two facilitators who narrate the new video resourcesImage of the homepage of one of the new video resourcesImage of a woman doing an exercise in her living room using a chair as a prop

We're very pleased to share new video footage for the ESCAPE-pain knee and hip programme. The footage is a collaboration between the Academic Health Science Network for the North East and North Cumbria, North West Coast Innovation Agency, and the Health Innovation Network. It is a 10-session abridged version of the ESCAPE-pain programme using videos. The videos have been designed to give people access to the programme during the current COVID-19 restrictions. These sessions will only be available online until face-to-face sessions are able to be delivered at physical venues once more.

Conditions for use:

  • Please note the link is not publicly available. It is only available for use by trained ESCAPE-pain facilitators, based at ESCAPE-pain sites that were active before lockdown. The purpose of this is to enable trained facilitators, who are familiar with the programme, to explain the programme to service users who may need guidance about the videos and how to use them and answer any queries they may have.
  • If you require the link please contact your regional ESCAPE-pain lead or the central team on hello@escape-pain.org
  • The link must not be shared with any persons that are not trained ESCAPE-pain facilitators.
  • To reduce the likelihood of infringement of the associated Intellectual Property, the footage must also not be shared with other referrers into the programme nor wider generic stakeholders. 

Who is it aimed at?

  • You may find this resource is useful for your service users who would prefer this format rather than the ESCAPE-pain app, ESCAPE-pain Online or the virtual delivery model which some sites are offering.
  • The video resources were developed with the recognition that some people do not have access to video conferencing facilities.

How does it work?

Each video is made up of:

  • an education topic presentation;
  • a warm-up;
  • an exercise session;
  • a cool down;
  • and a relaxation session.

Service users should also be advised to complete two sessions per week, with a few days in between each session to recover.

Please note that clinical outcomes do not need to be collected for this format.


7. Supporting ESCAPE-pain participants with no access to the Internet or digital devices

We recognise many of the tools that are being recommended to support people to keep active in their homes during COVID-19 require access to smart devices, laptops, the Internet etc. Importantly, they also require people to feel comfortable and able to use of these tools effectively.

Please see below a list of resources which may be more accessible to people who do not have access to the Internet or digital devices.

Depending on your service and if you have access to printing facilities you may wish to send printed copies of some of these resources to your participants, or email it to them or a family member if they are able to print them out themselves. 

  • Versus Arthritis knee exercises – downloadable version.
  • Versus Arthritis hip exercises – downloadable version.
  • Versus Arthritis back exercisesdownloadable version.
  • Versus Arthritis also have a free helpline open Monday–Friday, 9am–8pm, the number is 0800 5200 520. *Calls are free when calling from within the UK but charges will apply when calling from abroad. For more information you will need to contact your network provider.
  • This Department of Health infographic details the physical activity guidelines for adults and older adults.
  • We Are Undefeatable is a campaign supporting those with long term health conditions to be more active. They have introduced 'Five in Five' - a mini-workout that is completely customisable. It's simple too. Just choose 5 activities from their library of exercises and do each for 1 minute. Download the booklet.
  • Move More Sheffield have shared an excellent booklet that can be printed out and sent to people to support them stay active and healthy at home. The booklet was co-produced by partners across Sheffield in recognition that there is little out there for people who do not use the internet. It is part of Sport England's Join the Movement campaign and gives ideas and credible advice on how to stay active and healthy during lockdown.  
  • The University of Manchester's Healthy Ageing Research Group has teamed up with the Greater Manchester Ageing Hub to  develop a wellbeing booklet with support and advice for older people self-isolating during COVID-19. Download and print a copy of the 'Keeping Well at Home' booklet.
  • Gateshead Older People's Assembly have launched 'Keeping Well at Home' TV - an exercise programme that is available to watch on television. Keeping Well at Home can be viewed on Tyne & Wear Local TV as part of the North East Live programme. Tyne & Wear Local TV is available on Freeview (channel 7), Sky (channel 117), and Virgin Media (channel 159). The programme airs Monday through Friday at the following times:
    • 6:07am, 7:07am, 8:07am, 13:07pm, 13:37pm, 18:07pm and 19:07pm (Freeview and Virgin Media)
    • 19:37 (Sky)
    • Viewers are encouraged to tune in on the hour or half hour in order to catch North East Live in full. Each episode is approximately four minutes. During that time, instructors explain and demonstrate exercises you can do throughout the day.
  • 10Today is a set of 10 minutes exercises that can be listened to on the radio (DAB only, not FM) or watched online. For all the different radio stations please visit their website.
  • Finally, depending on what your participants might be interested in you could also download and send any mindfulness/meditation practices for them to follow at home if they're feeling anxious or stressed. Sometimes a simple visualisation exercise can be really quite relaxing and soothing. Perhaps share one you've already used in your ESCAPE-pain classes.


We are grateful for anything you can do to support your participants. Also, let us know of other resources you’ve come across that we can share more widely.

For further information please email: hello@escape-pain.org‚Äč

Page last reviewed: 12 May 2021. Page last updated: 12 May 2021. Next review date: July 2021