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Physio support workers help patients move on from intensive care

7 May 2013 - 12:14pm

A project that has seen two physiotherapy support worker posts created on a critical care ward is having impressive results.


Photo: Nathan Clarke

The project at University Hospital Southampton involves two support workers being on hand in the intensive care unit (ICU) to help get patients moving sooner.

The early mobilisation project started in April 2012 and the early results are encouraging.

Patients are being seen by physiotherapy staff an average of 1.6 days after admission, down from an average of three days previously.

And they receive an average of 26 episodes of physiotherapy during their stay on the unit, compared with just six before.

Meanwhile, overall ICU length of stay has dropped from a mean of 17.1 days to an average of 12.5 days since the project started.

Nikki Collings, senior respiratory physiotherapist at the trust, said the early mobility team aimed to provide intensive rehabilitation and exercise therapy for patients as early as possible, and ‘regular’ physio on the ward then continued as normal.

‘With the support of the medical team, who manage the sedation, we can now provide rehabilitation much quicker,’ Ms Collings said. ‘The assistants' roles are quite independent, and they can work at bed level on their own – it’s working really well.’

Funding for the physiotherapy support workers was initially secured for two years, but they have now been confirmed as permanent posts.

‘There are huge benefits to getting patients up and moving earlier, and we can now try to get them doing something at the highest level they can tolerate as soon as possible,’ Ms Collings said.

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