COMPLETE: The Southampton Mobility Volunteer programme to increase physical activity levels of older inpatients: a feasibility study

Theme 2

Ageing and Dementia

The problem:
Evidence suggests that previously mobile older people move very little in hospital i.e. they may spend as much as 83% of their time lying in bed.
Low mobility among older people in hospital is associated with poor health outcomes:
• worsening physical function,
• increasing dependence in activities of daily living,
• increased admission to nursing home and
• increased mortality.

The solution:
The SoMoVe study will evaluate the feasibility and acceptability of using trained volunteers to increase physical activity of older inpatients. Volunteers will encourage patients to keep active (walk or chair based exercises) twice a day for about 15 minutes each session. Physical activity levels, cognition, mood, and quality of life will be measured implementation

SoMoVe - Dr Stephen Lim from NIHR CLAHRC Wessex on Vimeo.

Key Findings


  • Feasible and safe to train volunteers to mobilise patients

    17 volunteers recruited, 12 retained (71% retention)
    310 sessions offered, 230 delivered (74% adherence)
    No adverse events
  • Well-received by patients
  • Staff members appreciated the work of the volunteers
  • Positive signals of improvement in physical activity levels and receipt of care

Future work and developments

  • Study adopted by UHS – Eat, Drink, Move
  • Helpforce partnership - £50,000
  • UHS as an exemplar for mobility volunteers
  • Controlled trial, possibly multicentre 




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