Hannah Poulton is passionate about spreading the message that working with people with terminal illnesses can be inspiring, rewarding and fun.
Tell us about your role
I am clinical lead physiotherapist for an amazing team working at LOROS Hospice. This charity cares for more than 2,500 people in Leicester, Leicestershire and Rutland every year. We have a full-time physio, three part-time physios and one part-time therapy assistant. My role is varied, challenging and exciting. For example, I work on the 31-bed inpatient ward, help in day therapy, teach on our education programmes and implement new service developments. Other activities include helping in the acupuncture clinic, being part of two research studies and taking part in clinical reasoning sessions, while constantly evaluating the service to ensure excellence.
How do physio staff make a difference?
The team runs a lymphoedema, Bowen and acupuncture clinic on Thursday and Friday mornings. We use these approaches to offer support and relief to the many outpatients who come to LOROS. We help relieve symptoms such as musculoskeletal (MSK) pain and sickness, release scar tissue, reduce people’s anxiety and breathlessness and increase their sense of wellbeing. In the ward setting, we help patients achieve their goals which might be sitting out in a chair for an hour or walking in the hospice gardens. We are an integral part of a close-knit multidisciplinary team, providing a vital role in maintaining patients’ muscle strength and movement for as long as possible, thus reducing the risk of pressure areas and pain.
What inspires you at work?
The team I work in is hard-working, dedicated, focused and confident. They always go the extra mile, putting the patient at the centre of everything, and it’s inspiring and humbling to witness this and contribute. The patients we meet – whether in the clinics, day therapy or on the ward – never cease to amaze me. Their strength, resilience, determination and sense of humour, at such a difficult time for them, is inspiring.
There are so many! We have teamed up with the counselling team to provide creative writing sessions for groups of four to six day therapy patients. Under the guidance of the counsellor, we find ways of helping the patients to express their ‘journey’. I don’t think we can treat a person’s physical problems unless we have first addressed any underlying psychological concerns.
In these sessions, we help patients with anxiety management, breathlessness and pain, through the power of writing and sharing thoughts and ideas. Being able to help patients like this, has, on occasions, reduced their need for painkillers and improved their quality of life. We also trialled a staff physio clinic to help our own staff with MSK problems. The result was staff feeling better and having less pain. We also started a journal club for the team, and are part of a comprehensive wellbeing programme in day therapy, offering talks on falls prevention, keeping active and tai chi classes.
Do you take students on placement?
We have taken students in the past and are setting up a new programme for students this year. Every single student has arrived with pre-conceived ideas of what will be expected from them and the environment in which they will be working. At the end of their placement, they are amazed by how much they have learned and the valuable skills they can take away. They are more confident in dealing with highly emotional situations. Their moving and handling skills and their knowledge about palliative conditions also improve. They all say they were treated like part of the team, right from the start.
Any plans for the future?
I am extremely excited about the future – both professionally and personally. LOROS will have a new clinical skills building, where we can teach and train other individuals and share good practice. Day therapy will be extended and a new enablement suite is being built. Here we hope to have a modern gym, sensory area, and functional kitchen suite, to help fully assess patients prior to being discharged. We will also have modern treatment rooms. Hospice work is dynamic, fun, challenging, exciting and rewarding.
On a personal note, I am going on maternity leave. I leave the team in the capable hands of deputy physio Helen Holland, who has even more ideas on how to take the team and service forward. fl
- Hannah Poulton is clinical lead physiotherapist, LOROS Hospice, Leicester.
AuthorHannah Poulton is clinical lead physiotherapist, LOROS Hospice, Leicester
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