How To Get Patients To Do Their Home Exercise Programmes

Posted By: Andy Barker

I’m sure you feel no different to any other therapist when your patients DON’T do their rehab exercises…

Frustrated, confused and possibly even angry.

You’ve given them these exercises as part of their home exercise programme to help them get out pain and back doing the activities, sports and hobbies they enjoy the most.

You want them to get better and surely your patient wants to get better too?

This can be without question, one, if not the most, frustrating parts about being a therapist.

You feel like you are doing EVERYTHING you can to help your patient, but they just don’t ‘Buy In’ to your treatment plan.

You think your patient is ‘lazy…’

You question if they do want to get better…

I’m sure you will have done this in the past (I sure did as a New Grad).

…But your WRONG.

Your patients do want to get better.

They really do.

You may think your patients have a problem and that is why they are not ‘Buying In’ to your treatment plan.

But it’s NOT your patients that have a problem.

It most cases the problem might be YOU…

Why Do Patients NOT Do Their Home Exercise Programme (Or Even Worse – Stop Turning Up For Physio?

Simply, it comes down to one of two things. Either…

1) They DON’T TRUST What You Are Telling Them Or…
2) You Have Delivered Your Clinical MESSAGE Poorly

That’s it.

This is why patients don’t ‘Buy In’ to your treatment plan and is the same reason that patients stop turning up for physio.

I’m sure you’ve had those patients that DNA and you never hear anything from them again.

I used to think naively that I had fixed them.

I used to think that after 3 or 4 sessions that I had done enough to allow them to get back to doing whatever activity or goal we had outlined in their initial assessment and as a result, they didn’t feel the need to come back.

I knew in the back of my head as a New Grad that these patients needed more sessions, to take them through a full rehab plan.

But do you know the real reason patients stop showing up?

It is because they have lost FAITH in your ability to get them back to full fitness.

They don’t TRUST what you have told them, and they don’t UNDERSTAND HOW your treatment plan is going to get them from their current injured state and back to how they were pre-injury.

Building Patient Trust & Understanding

Maybe you just think this is part of being a New Grad Physio.

After all your young and inexperienced and you know you have a lot to learn.

Maybe you just need practice to improve how you deliver your clinical message to your patient and in time you will learn how to build TRUST with your patients.


You will need practice at delivering a better clinical message and building trust with patients is a skill that needs specific focus.

But if you don’t know HOW to deliver this clinical message in the first place, so your patient understands WHAT you are saying and HOW your home exercise programme will fix their problems, they will NEVER ‘Buy In’ to your treatment plan.

And it doesn’t matter how good a treatment plan you have, if your patient doesn’t do it, it is not worth the paper it is written on.

The ability to build trust with your patients can be tough.

It’s not something we were taught at University with the primary focus being on the development of our clinical skills.

But these non-clinical skills are so important and the lack of application of these skills is causing many New Grad Physio’s poor treatment outcomes and patient progress.

Unless you can get your patients to ‘Buy In’ to your treatment plan you will never get them to improve or to complete a full treatment plan.

I your patients are not completing their home exercise programmes; it may not be because of patient disinterest or laziness.

It might be a problem on your part, a problem with you not being able to build TRUST with your patient or your inability to confidently deliver your clinical message to your patient (or both).

This is such an important topic and one that I spend so much time working with New Grad Physio’s to develop in my membership.

As such I will devote my next blog post entirely to helping you discover what you can do to build TRUST with your patients and HOW to position and communicate your clinical message to your patients so they go away and do every rep of every set of the rehab exercises that you set them.

Key Take-Aways

  • Patients are NOT disinterested or ‘lazy’ and their non-adherence to your treatment plan is often the result of a lack of TRUST in you the therapist or poor delivery of your clinical MESSAGE
  • The ability to build trust with your patients can be hard given the lack of teaching in this skill previously at University
  • Being able to deliver a clinical message that patients understand is key, so they can make sense of HOW your treatment plan is going to fix their problems and get them back to full fitness – unless they understand this, they will never ‘Buy In’ to your treatment plan, no matter how good it is
If you found reading this blog post useful you will also find BIG value in my book ‘How To Become A Competent, Confident & Competitive New Grad Physio.’

In the book I show you WHY you need the 3 C’s; COMPETENCY, CONFIDENCE & COMPETITVENESS, and HOW to gain these skill-sets to enjoy a successful start to your career as a New Grad Physio, Sports Therapist or Sports Rehabilitator.

Find out more about the book here.