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Physios promote daily activities to speed-up recovery on ‘winter pressures’ reablement ward

12 February 2015 - 7:33am

Physiotherapists are helping older patients stay active, recover faster and get home earlier in a ‘winter pressures’ reablement ward.

Francesca Roberts and Juliet Crissell, patient Rose Hamilton and clinical lead physio Jackie Wastell

L-R: Physios Francesca Roberts and Juliet Crissell, patient Rose Hamilton and clinical lead physio Jackie Wastell

The temporary ward at the Royal Free hospital in north London opened last November and is due to stay open until April.

Three physiotherapists work alongside nurses and occupational therapists. Together they help older people to regain their independence and practise day-to-day tasks before they are discharged.

They encourage patients to wash and dress themselves, eat in a communal area, socialise, participate in balance and exercise groups and attend weekly music sessions.

Jackie Wastell, clinical lead physiotherapist for care of the elderly, works with physiotherapists Francesca Roberts and Juliet Crissel.

‘The ability to carry out basic daily living activities often deteriorates rapidly when older people remain inactive in hospital for too long,’ she said.

‘But this ward allows them to remain active. The emphasis is on functional activity as a treatment to encourage a return to normal, everyday activities of daily living.

‘Patients are encouraged to do as much as possible for themselves. And of course it is a win-win situation because it improves the flow of patients through the hospital, releases beds for other people and speeds up recovery times.’

Value for money

The ward originally opened for six months in the winter of 2013. A spokesperson for the hospital said data from that period shows the service:

  • cut the number of operations cancelled due to a lack of beds
  • cut waiting times for beds following patients’ arrival at A&E
  • enabled 37 per cent of patients admitted to the ward, who were previously awaiting a rehabilitation place, to be discharged straight home because they no longer needed rehab

Ms Wastell said the hospital is continuing to collect data to prove that the service provides value for money. Patient and relative feedback about the service had been positive, she said.

Anne Thom had been recovering from a fall for three weeks before she was moved from an acute ward to the reablement ward.

She said: ‘Here I have to get up and do something. You can go to the bathroom yourself here whereas you couldn’t on the other ward. It really helps, and I feel like I am recovering quickly.’

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