Work-based Learning Toolkit and Partnership Plans

Leitrim Physiotherapy, Ireland


Selina Shanley, Chartered Physiotherapist, founded Leitrim Physiotherapy and provides high quality professional Physiotherapy and Sports Management Services complimented by Pilates and Yoga Classes and an over 50’s exercise programme which delivers an ethos of maintaining a healthy and active lifestyle to manage and prevent illness and injury.

The clinic was established in 2010 by Selina Shanley MISCP.  Selina graduated from The Robert Gordon University and started her career with a broad-based clinical background before specializing in Musculoskeletal condition management.  She has been teaching Pilates for over 10 years and is a trained Acupuncturist.  Selina places a strong emphasis on Continuous Professional Development and recognizes it as the core value necessary to provide high standards of care.  With this value at heart, Selina recently completed a National Certificate in Strength and Conditioning and is studying a Post Graduate Masters of Science in Clinical Sports Medicine.


Please tell us about your Age Friendly Product/Service

2016 saw the establishment of an over 50’s exercise class called Super Senior’s. The class targets the primary areas of physical risk in this age cohort.  It combines cardiovascular exercise, balance training, strength and flexibility training and core stability and strength work.  The class also provides a health promotion component which educates the participants on managing the common conditions encountered in this demographic e.g arthritis, osteoporosis, falls and fracture rehabilitation to name a few.

When people join the programme, they complete a medical screening and are assessed using a range of outcome measures that are researched and proven valid and reliable in this population.  Assessment results are used to formulate an individualized exercise programme.  Participants progress is then monitored and programmes are adapted on a continual basis by Physiotherapists with a working knowledge of these conditions, on the importance of physical exercise and also the impact of underlying medical conditions.  This gives clients the reassurance that they are exercising in a safe environment and that they will be managed effectively.

The class schedule involves a dynamic and fun warm up and a balance set.  We then break up into individual programmes or smaller sub groups and work through set programmes.  The classes are varied and also include circuit rounds, teaching strategies for getting off the floor in the event of a fall, cumulative cycling goals, races, dancing and chat.  Occasionally, we bring in guest speakers to give health promotion advice and we finish with refreshments and fruit.  The class provides a social outlet for people and we mark special occasions with cake or a trip to a local tea-rooms.

Who is the target market? 

The programme is targeted at both the male and female over 50’s population.

Census figures available are based on the over 65’s population and it is this section of our population which has shown and is predicted to continue to show the largest increase in population figures.  The life expectancy of the Irish adults over 65 has risen by 19% since 2011.  By 2041, it is predicted that the number of 85 year olds in the country will rise by 5 fold from 74,000 to 356,000 with an increase in men’s life expectancy of 20 years and 25 years for women.  This will come with considerable health, social and economic challenges to the state.  This opens up a larger market opportunity within the private sector as the public sector is already struggling to cope with its current volume of patients.

There are currently over 1 million people in our country over the age of 65.  County Leitrim has 5400 residents over 65, totaling 16.9% of the county’s population and the 4th highest levels in the country.  Leitrim has a dependency ratio of 62.6%, the highest level in the country.  The neighboring counties of Sligo and Roscommon have 10,600 and 10,700 residents respectively over the age of 65.  In order to sustain the health and well being of this ageing population, greater emphasis must be placed on the maintenance of physical well being in order to reduce the physical risk factors associated with this population and ease the potential burden of care in the future.

Identifying the need: – How did you come up with the idea, research and validate it?

The idea for the class spawned from clinical work as a Physiotherapist.  An integral role of Physiotherapy is to promote a healthy and active lifestyle.  Locally in County Leitrim, there are numerous facilities and amenities to engage in physical activity.  This includes a gym, a pool and several private business that offer fitness classes.  However, most of these facilities are targeted to the younger populations.

Late stage patient rehabilitation quite often involves integrating clients into physical activity within the community outwidth of the clinical and medical setting.  Unfortunately, clients repeatedly reported feeling intimidated and being put off by an overwhelmingly younger population in these outlying settings.  This barrier limited integration and long-term engagement and participation in physical exercise.

As a result, the Super Senior’s Programme was established to target the physical exercise needs of this cohort of the population.

Has the programme evolved? Did you encounter any unknowns in delivery the first class? Did you market this course differently than your others or how did you spread the word about it?

The programme began with 6-8 participants. After initial screening and assessment programmes were devised according to the assessment results.  Initially, the programmes were set quite conservatively until participants got familiar and confident with their exercise capacity.  Over time, the class has become more dynamic and includes a variety of exercise types including balance and falls re-training, circuits, boxing and various forms of resistance training including weights, kettlebells and resistance bands.

The measurement tools utilized within the class were initially relatively basic but as the class has progressed they have been upgraded to more comprehensive measures which are scientifically valid and reliable within this client group.  These outcome measures are repeatedly measured to monitor progress and progress training plans as appropriate.

Recently, I added access to an online exercise programme to the service.  Current participants were emailed an access code which opens up a link to video’s of their own personal home exercise programme.  This is on a trial period at present with an aim of rolling it out on a larger scale and potentially developing an exercise platform to build this programme as an online service.

 How has this new Product/Service changed the dynamic of your business?

The running of the Super Senior’s Exercise Classes had transformed the clinic from purely being a clinical setting to one of a more social and health promoting business.  As well as seeing the physical progression of participants, it has been very fulfilling to see friendships emerge through the class.  Class participants are benefiting from increased levels of social interaction.  This is directly as a result of feeling stronger and at less risk of falling and so they engage better with community based social events.  People locally recognize the clinic as a hub for activity and wellbeing as well as a facility to attend for Physiotherapy services.

In late 2017,  our  Super Seniors programme won a runner up award in County Leitrim Final of Irelands Best Young Entrepreneur Competition.  At the time of this competition, the plan for the programme was to train additional Physiotherapists and roll this programme out on a multi site basis.  Unfortunately, recruitment of Physiotherapist’s is extremely difficult in the Private Sector.  For this reason and with the huge development of the online exercise industry, the plan for development is now to move towards the development of an online exercise platform rather than rolling the programme out over a multi site basis.  This is at present in the research stages but there is a huge opportunity to enter this market and provide valuable exercise expertise to the over 50’s population on a wider scale than could ever be achieved on a multi site basis.

Selina Sutherland MISCP

Chartered Physiotherapist

Leitrim Physiotherapy

Leitrim Road Townparks Carrick-On-Shannon Co. Leitrim, Ireland
087 940 1018

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