When I first decided to deliver the Level 4 Qualification in Low Back Pain and discovered one of the prerequisites was the Level 3 in Exercise Referral, I could hear the groans from Pilates instructors from around the country! As Pilates instructors we already receive informal referrals from physios, osteos and other medical professionals and many GPs will recommend Pilates as an excellent form of exercise to back pain patients.So why would we consider spending time and money obtaining a qualification which appears unnecessary and irrelevant? One of the main considerations must be our own liability as Pilates instructors. We all have experienced a new client arriving to our class, ticking yes to having a bone or joint problem on the Par-Q and then explaining that their medical professional has told them to do Pilates. More often than not, we welcome them to the class and advise them to work only at the low levels and to stop if they feel any discomfort or pain right? We know how Pilates can hugely reduce low back pain and improve functional movement. Statistically so many participants suffer at some point with low back pain, an estimated 4 out of 5 adults will suffer back pain at some point in their life (Maniadakis and Gray 2000) while back pain is just as common in adolescents as in adults (Burton et al 2006) leading to a massive drain on the economy.But from an insurance point of view if any client answers yes to having a bone or joint problem you must have written confirmation from their GP or medical professional stating that they are "fit to exercise"-those exact words.
Another problem appears to be that in the past the Referral Schemes do not appear to successfully involve Pilates instructors.I believe this is simply due to a lack of communication and understanding between GPs and instructors. Most GP surgeries are voluntary signed into Quality Outcomes Framework. This means they have set targets to meet, for example, referring a client to an exercise professional (you!) The more targets met, the greater the financial rewards for the surgery. Therefore, as Pilates instructors we need to clearly demonstrate how the service we provide can become a viable treatment option alongside medication and promote our relationship with GPs.
In April 2013 there will be major changes to the funding allocation for the Exercise Referral Scheme. Prior funding was allocated nationally, but from April it will be from a local level through Health and Well-being Boards.The Boards, made up of Public Health Directors, GPs, MPs and Health and Wellness experts, have been given responsibility of their health budget to target specific prevalences in their particular locality. The dates of the meetings, many of which are open, are now published and this can provide an excellent opportunity for you to become involved and demonstrate how you can help them to achieve their targets. To find out the most prevalent medical conditions in your area visit www.apho.org.uk which shows the health profiles per post code. It is also part of the Health and Well-being Board's remit to engage with as many small businesses in their area-this means you!
So although the Level 3 in Exercise Referral for many of us is a pathway to achieving the Level 4 Back Care, it is an excellent opportunity to further develop your business both financially and to engage with a wider client base who may not have the financial means to book individual or group sessions. It is also a fantastic chance to further enhance your knowledge of different conditions and their exercise implications, helping many clients to improve their ability to perform daily tasks, reduce pain and return to their normal lifestyle.
For more information on any of our courses please visit www.jpilates.co.uk or contact firstname.lastname@example.org