REPs Ireland is the Irish national professional register for Exercise Professionals. http://www.repsireland.ie/
As our industry & profession matures, we see many Exercise Professionals specialising and developing advanced knowledge, competency and skills in specific roles.
REPs Ireland is focused on creating partnership & stakeholder relationships in 3 key areas:
Registered Exercise Professionals already contribute to each of these areas, but often in an informal and unstructured way.
The context of ‘Health’ in Ireland has changed significantly in the last few years. In terms of the perception of the ‘Nations’ health, and in the way healthcare services are delivered.
In 1999, a national General Practitioner Exercise Referral Program (GPERP) was launched, which up skilled exercise professionals in clinical skills & knowledge, so that the GP could refer directly to the Exercise Professional, who would implement an appropriate supervised exercise program (gym based).
The GPERP had limited success, party due to the business model used, but mainly due to the limited scope of referral available. i.e. GP only.
After a review of the GPERP in 2013, a new National Exercise Referral Framework (NERF) has been developed and proposed.
The development of this enhanced referral program, includes:
· A detailed framework outlining the roles and responsibilities
· Competencies and training requirements
· Infrastructure requirements
· Resource requirements of the referring practitioners and service providers
· The management of exercise referral
· An evaluation framework
· A business model.
REPs Ireland contributed on many topics as a member of the advisory panel and expert symposium. Previously, due to the absence of a similar representation in the development of healthcare programs & services, the exercise professional was the only allied healthcare professional unrepresented. This has resulted in an absence of the Exercise Professional in the majority of the national healthcare programs & services. (REPs Ireland was not established until 2009.)
It’s significant that in the proposed NERF, REPs Ireland has been named as the appropriate body to regulate the education & training standards for the exercise professionals, that will engage as service providers as part of the framework.
The process of establishing the appropriate education & training standards will involve REPs Ireland engaging with all referral professional bodies (listed below), to ensure that all allied healthcare professionals fully understand and respect the exercise professionals’ role.
Once successfully implemented, the NERF will result in Registered Exercise Professionals providing Physical Activity opportunities to a wide range of the public, with referrals coming from all healthcare professionals, including:
· Hospital physicians and multidisciplinary colleagues
· Primary care development officers and teams
· Practice nurses and advanced nurse practitioners
· Clinical nurse specialists
· Allied health professionals (e.g. occupational therapists)
· Community care personnel (e.g. nurses, dieticians, pharmacists, social workers)
· Occupational health departments
· Mental health professionals GP’s, Physiotherapists, Occupational Therapists
As a profession, we will play a significant role to deliver interventions in a non clinical environment, which can lead to acute and long term increases in physical activity, and the well established benefits associated with this.
The NERF has been developed in the context of the recent elevation of health and physical activity as a priority for Government and the public service. Evidence is growing of the issues caused by population inactivity, the associated disease caseload, and the inability of existing services to address this.
Internationally, physical activity’s role in the prevention and control of non-communicable
diseases (NCDs) is recognised by the Council of the European Union (2013), the World Health
Assembly (2004, 2008) and the United Nations General Assembly (2011).
Strategic and policy documents including Health 2020, the European Policy for Health and Wellbeing, the Vienna Declaration on Nutrition and NCDs (2013), and the European Physical Activity
Strategy (in development), all advocate for EU member states to have clear, consistent, physical activity policies that require physical activity targets.
These should have appropriate strategies and monitoring systems to address a 25% reduction in premature mortality from NCDs and a 10% reduction in physical inactivity (those not meeting physical activity guidelines) by 2025.
Ireland, as a member state of the EU, has signed up to these targets.
The National Positive Ageing Strategy (2013) identified the achievement of lifelong good health, with an increased disability-free life expectancy for the population. Physical activity has a role to play in achieving this objective.
Within primary care, integrated care pathways (ICPs) are instruments designed to map out the direction of clinical and administrative activities for all health professionals working with NCD groups. Instead of reactive or crisis care, ICPs are designed to provide improved service for both patients and carers through a more proactive care planning approach. Physical activity has a role to play within ICPs in the primary and secondary prevention and the management of NCDs.
REPs Ireland will continue to represent Exercise Professionals in the future development of national programs and services, to ensure that there can be formal and structured roles to promote standards and excellence, to establish the role of exercise professionals as allied healthcare professionals.