NHS England - Transformation Directorate

A programme for patients with musculoskeletal (MSK) conditions who want more movement in their lives

The NHS spends over £5 billion a year treating patients with MSK conditions.

Osteoarthritis and back pain are the leading causes of disability in the UK.

Regular physical activity reduces the risk of developing long-term MSK conditions.

For those living with arthritis or MSK conditions, even a small increase in physical activity can improve their condition.

Situation

It's currently estimated that there are over 20 million people in the UK living with a MSK condition. Staying active has a significant beneficial impact on:

  • wellbeing
  • improving quality of life
  • helping retain independence

However, currently people with MSK conditions are less likely to be active than the general population for a range of complex reasons.

Staying active is also essential for people who don’t have an MSK condition. It maintains good musculoskeletal health and can prevent avoidable problems developing in the future.

Aspiration

The team wanted to create a digital intervention based on behaviour change theory that supports patients with MSK conditions and other comorbidities.

It will also help patients to be more physically active from the comfort of their home at a level that’s right for them.

Solution and impact

Let’s Move is a programme designed to help patients with MSK conditions to get active at a level that’s right for them.

Healthcare professionals can signpost people to the programme.

The programme has tailored content ranging from movement routines to top tips from experts and myth-busting advice. All the resources are free and available online.

Patients who want to receive weekly exercises and personal stories can sign up to the Let’s Move newsletter. They can also access the video sessions on the Versus Arthritis YouTube channel and through the Let’s Move Facebook Group.

'Let’s Move with Leon' is Versus Arthritis’ free weekly programme of 30 minute movement sessions for people living with MSK pain. Other resources available include:

So far, over 52,000 people have signed up to the Let’s Move newsletter.

The Let’s Move Facebook Group has over 7,300 members who offer support and advice to each other.

Functionality

  • The online service is designed for patients with MSK conditions.
  • Sessions show people with arthritis taking part in exercises demonstrated by a qualified Level 4 MSK instructor.
  • Patients can access the Let’s Move tailored content online at a time that works for them.
  • Patients can follow movement sessions at a pace that works for them.
  • Weekly emails alerts of new movement sessions and stories are available.
  • Content is also available on DVDs for those who find this format more accessible.

Capabilities

The programme:

  • encourages and empowers patients to move at a time and pace that works for them
  • connects patients with a community where they can share their experiences
  • has an activity tracker document which helps patients to keep track of their progress and stay motivated

Scope

  • The programme can be used at home at a time that suits the patients.
  • It can be used in a community setting where patients can participate in sessions together.

Key learning points

  • It's important for healthcare professionals to offer physical activity advice and support to patients with MSK conditions. Practical and emotional support is also important.
  • Symptoms are often the main barrier patients face when it comes to being active. Helping patients to manage these while being active can be the key to unlocking physical activity.
  • One third of people see improving their MSK condition as one of the positive benefits of physical activity, but it's not the main driver for taking part. This means the wider benefits of increasing physical activity should be communicated, not just those linked to MSK conditions.

Digital equalities

The team is running user testing on their website for disabled people and how they interact with the Let’s Move products. The feedback will be collated and used to inform changes to the campaign.

Let’s Move content is also provided in a range of formats. Let’s Move with Leon and Make Your Moves is available on DVD for free.

Key quotes

“[I like] the encouragement, feeling of safety and for those of us with multiple health issues, besides the arthritis, my own being heart and cancer. There was always something for everyone, no matter their age, ability, level of fitness or weight.”

Christine, service user

“I’ve always loved walking and swimming and I’m so delighted that my arthritis diagnosis, initially rather depressing, has introduced me to Let’s Move and a renewed awareness of the benefits of different, targeted, ways of getting moving when bits of you don’t work! A very big thank you to all concerned.”

Tamsin, service user

“I have just started the Let’s Move with Leon programme offered by Versus Arthritis. It’s great to feel I can actually be guided to exercise with somebody who understands. I definitely felt better after it. I wish I’d found it sooner.”

Amanda, service user

Find out more

FAQ on Versus Arthritis website

Let's Move with Leon (PDF, 1MB. This document may not be accessible to assistive technology.)

Key contact

Aneika Cummings, Physical Activity Project Manager, Versus Arthritis

a.cummings@versusarthritis.org