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National success

Matthew Limb talks to the winners of the CSP's Physio of the Year awards for Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland

Scotland's physio of the year Sue Gray told of her delight at receiving her award after being praised as a role model for the profession.

Ms Gray was nominated by colleagues for her work with the interdisciplinary response and intervention service at Glasgow Royal Infirmary. IRIS was set up in 2002 to help people stay out of hospital where possible by providing appropriate intervention and support in the community.

Ms Gray works mostly with older patients on the wards, assessing their suitability for discharge and organising follow-up care, including rehabilitation, where needed. She was praised by the IRIS team for helping to build a successful service by demonstrating impressive knowledge and skills.

One of the team, Marie Brennan, a rehabilitation technical instructor, said staff had become more aware of the importance of balance and gait and the proper use of assessment tools. She said patients in the community responded well to Ms Gray because of her care in explaining rehab programmes to them. 'We have noticed an improvement and achievement of goals for many of Sue's patients,' Ms Brennan said. She also commended Ms Gray's work in producing a DVD for the IRIS team working with older adults.

Ms Gray told Frontline IRIS provided a range of services in the north of Glasgow aimed at avoiding admissions. She said: 'Part of our service is to assess patients in A&E to see if they are able to go home with our support. We also do a GP rapid-response service. We can supply equipment to put in someone's home and we can acccess services for home care immediately.'

Innovation in  Northern Ireland

A manager who is regarded as a first-class motivator, innovator and educator, as well as 'one of the gang' by her staff, is Northern Ireland physio of the year.

Patricia Humphreys joined Musgrave Park hospital in Belfast after qualifying in 1978 and has been physio lead in the orthopaedic unit for the past 12 years. She has been recognised for fostering major developments in physiotherapy at the hospital, for her charitable work and her role in teaching and research.

Ms Humphreys manages general orthopaedics, paediatrics, and Ilizarov and upper limb services, and maintains a significant clinical role.

She has been involved in developments such as pre-operative assessments for hip and knee replacement patients, in which patients are taught at an early stage to use crutches, which enables many to go home almost immediately after surgery.

A 'tireless' volunteer for the hospital charity that was set up by staff and local business to boost facilities and services, she recently completed a fund-raising parachute jump. She is also a member of the UK orthopaedic special interest group and acts as a moderator for the orthopaedic section of iCSP. Ms Humphreys has been active in research, recently carrying out a study into physiotherapy following knee replacements.

Ms Humphreys told Frontline: 'I'm so pleased to be nominated by the team and slightly stunned by it all. I can't believe I've been nominated for an award for something I really enjoy doing.'

Alison Wolseley, a senior 1 orthopaedic physio at Musgrave Park, said staff morale was high because of the way Ms Humphreys led her team. Ms Wolseley said: 'Patricia is an expert in her field. As a manager she teaches, motivates and leads by example. She promotes innovation in physiotherapy and always provides a high quality of service for patients.'

Joint Welsh winners

Emma Llewellyn and Liz Peel share the title Wales physio of the year.

Ms Llewellyn is physio lead in a multidisciplinary team that has set up a specialist Parkinson's disease service, based at the rehabilitation day unit at Dewi Sant hospital, Pontypridd. Her citation for this work praises not only the improvements but the way that she regularly involves patients and discusses developments with them.

Her team has already won an award from Pontypridd and Rhondda trust for introducing the service and demonstrating 'continuous quality improvement'.

Ms Llewellyn said her accolade came as a 'very nice surprise'. 'It's nice to win but it really is a reflection of the team I work with rather than just me as an individual,' she told Frontline.

The service, which identifies individual patients' therapeutic needs, is currently helping about 150 patients. Ms Llewellyn said: 'It's an assessment centre where patients are seen by physio, occupational therapy, nursing, speech and language therapy and dietetics. Following their assessment, we formulate treatment programmes, usually from each member of the team as the patient needs it.'

Nominating her for the award, senior physiotherapist Jigar Patel said the developments had led to a more 'needs-based service while maintaining a holistic approach to rehabilitation'.

Ms Llewellyn said outcome measures had shown that input by the multidisciplinary team had led to improvements in patients' gait and mobility. She told Frontline: 'Parkinson's disease is a progressive condition. We can't change the disease process, but we employ a number of strategies that help the patient overcoming problems like freezing in their gait pattern, so we can have a very positive impact.'

Liz Peel is a clinical lead physio at the Prince Philip hospital, Llanelli. Her team provides a seven-day service for patients who have elective orthopaedic surgery, such as joint replacements. This includes pre-assessment through to inpatient surgery and then care in either outpatient clinics or the community.

Ms Peel said: 'We follow our patients all the way through and then we're always there to offer advice even a year or two down the line when they've been discharged.' She said the service had reduced lengths of stay and reduced readmissions.

She was honoured for her dedication, innovation and commitment to patients.

One of her patients, Mary Cowern, who was diagnosed with severe rheumatoid arthritis in her 20s, needs regular physiotherapy after having undergone many operations, including knee replacement surgery. She said: 'If it wasn't for Liz I can truly say I wouldn't be the person I am today. Undoubtedly I would still be in a wheelchair.' Ms Cowern said her mobility and outlook on life had been transformed thanks to Ms Peel's physiotherapy skills and her ability to empathise and inspire.

'Liz has helped me through some tough times when I've wanted to give up. It was only her encouragement and motivation that helped me through. She gave me that extra push to take control of my arthritis and fight it head on.'

Ms Peel said: 'Mary was very disabled and when we eventually got her going and got her through her joint replacements, it was such a pleasure to see her walking for the first time without any aids at all. She walks totally unaided now.'

Ms Peel was 'shocked' to learn of the award, she said, and thanked all her colleagues, including medical and nursing staff: 'I really couldn't have won without their support.'

Junior recognition

Junior physiotherapist Hollie Smith has received the CSP's 'special recognition' award just six months into her career for 'significantly improving' her patients' quality of life.

Ms Smith, a University of East Anglia graduate, spent 10 months working in a shop before finding a job with a private rehabilitation company, RehabWorks in Basildon.

She told Frontline: 'I couldn't believe it when my manager said she was going to put the nomination in. I didn't expect to hear anything at all.'

The company runs a condition management programme with a local job centre to help people who receive incapacity benefit return to work.

'My work is running the musculoskeletal programme for people in Basildon and Chelmsford,' Ms Smith said. 'I also do the functional restoration programme which is working with insurance cases.'

Many patients referred to the programme have been out of work for several years with persistent conditions such as low back pain and respiratory problems. Around 90 per cent suffer from mild to moderate depression.

Ms Smith carries out biopsychosocial assessments to examine patients' attitudes and beliefs, and identify any barriers to health. She prescribes exercise and advice, addressing patients' coping strategies and emotional factors in order to help them regain their health and function.

One patient, Gary Skipp, who has returned to work after physiotherapy treatment said he had earlier been told by doctors not to do heavy lifting in case his 'dislocated' shoulder 'popped out'. Mr Skipp said: 'Hollie investigated my injury and found out that what I had been told wasn't correct. What she taught me about my injury has allowed me to lift things without worrying about doing further damage. Hollie has changed how I look at my injury, which has changed how I live.'

Ms Smith said many patients could be helped with 'understanding and a little bit of education' that they hadn't received elsewhere. Anitra Thomas, a physiotherapy manager at RehabWorks, praised her skills and ability to deliver effective intervention.

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