Design and implementation of a Care Pathway and Oncology Rehabilitation Program in a rural health service using exercise sessions and multidisciplinary education to improve health outcomes

Ms Keren Fuhrmeister1,2, Mr. Patrick Tainsh1,2, Ms.  Melissa Coad1

1Central Gippsland Health, Sale, Australia, 2Gippsland Regional Integrated Cancer Service, Traralgon, Australia


1) To develop a model of care so that cancer patients could access and participate in exercise.
2) To implement an ORP, with guidance from appropriate health professionals to develop a quality and sustainable service, while improving quality of life and exercise tolerance.

A literature review, benchmarking activities and patient surveys were completed to identify which patients would most benefit from exercise and what barriers to exercise were present. It was then identified how these could be overcome. A pilot group and one-on-one Oncology Rehabilitation Program (ORP) program was undertaken and evaluated based on evidence collected. This was used to develop a care pathway for cancer patients.

A pathway and model of care was developed, with the initiation of an ORP. This program improved access to specialized therapy to undertake a tailored exercise program, either individually or as a group. The ORP was found to be a successful pathway for patients to be supported to initiate, increase and/or maintain exercise levels. Overall improvements in fitness and strength, increased social cohesiveness, and improved quality of life scores were seen in this patient cohort.

Significance of the findings to allied health:
The model of care for patients utilizing an ORP in their local area met their identified needs in an appropriate and sustainable way, with low cost and high quality. This ORP model of care can be easily replicated in other allied health services.


Keren is a Accredited Practicing Dietitian and exercise scientist by profession. She is currently the General Manager of Allied Health, where she manages a team of 62 staff at Central Gippsland Health, an integrated health service. She is active in rural allied health networks in the Gippsland Region and is currently nearing completion of postgraduate studies with a Masters of Business Administration.

Patrick is an exercise physiologist, who has worked at Central Gippsland Health for over 4 years. He has a Masters in Exercise Rehabilitation and is passionate about making meaningful improvements in people’s lives with exercise & enjoys the challenge of helping people overcome barriers to exercise to improve their health. He has a special interest in group rehabilitation programs, cancer survivorship and the links with exercise.