3 minutes with ... Kayleigh Clitheroe

Working for an award-winning social enterprise gave Kayleigh Clitheroe scope to develop a ‘therapy at home’ project in Lancashire.


Tell us about your role

I qualified as a physiotherapist six years ago and work for Spiral Health at Bispham hospital nurse led therapy unit near Blackpool. In 2012 we were the first social enterprise to take over an NHS hospital. Although we’re not part of the NHS, we’re commissioned by the acute trust to provide rehabilitation and most of our patients come from Blackpool Victoria hospital.
We have a wide range of patients including orthopaedic, falls, amputees, stroke and respiratory. We see patients daily, implementing treatment plans or leading classes in the gym. I also assist in discharge planning, co-ordinating and training and am a member of the business development group.   

How did you free up bed nights?

Last April the acute trust asked us to devise a way to free up bed nights for the busy Easter period. Our organisation is owned by its staff and this means our managers are keen to hear our ideas and work alongside us to make these happen.
We developed a service called ‘therapy at home’ that allowed suitable patients to be discharged home earlier than predicted, receiving ongoing physiotherapy at home up to six times each week. Enabling quicker patient discharges allowed more patients to be transferred from the hospital. 

What was achieved?

During the four-week trial period, 13 patients took up the offer of our service, reducing the length of stay from an average of 18 nights to 12. I then visited them at home, working with them on individual treatment plans, on average four visits for each patient. None of the patients needed to be readmitted and only one was referred for ongoing community therapy.
The service saved 72 bed nights, which equates to £20,000 – or, potentially, £300,000 if run for a full year. The biggest benefit for me was the positive feedback from patients who much preferred receiving their treatment at home. Spiral Health has just been voted as Lancashire’s Social Enterprise of the Year. The judges said this initiative was one of the reasons we won. 

Is the service ongoing?

Our big news is that we have just been awarded a six-month contract with the acute trust to re-start the service from next week. Christmas was a fantastic time to be re-starting this service as everyone wants to be home for the festive season.
This is a chance to really hone the service and hopefully expand to a bigger caseload to benefit more patients. To help with this we have added a technical instructor post which has been offered as a secondment opportunity to our healthcare assistants which is a great opportunity for their development too.

Would you encourage others to follow your lead?

Yes, definitely. I think this initiative helps to promote physiotherapy in a positive light. We are leading change and developing to meet new service and patients’ needs. I learnt new skills around the business side of the project as I developed the service model and set up the paperwork, policies and audit – something which would normally be done at a higher management level.
It has helped to develop my confidence to work independently, dealing with complex issues for patients and adapting treatments to be more functional within a home environment. Dealing with wider members of the multidisciplinary team was an excellent way of networking and learning about additional resources available to patients. 

What would be your ideal job – and how will you get there?

I would really like to combine my love of rehabilitation with the functional treatment and goals that community work allows. In future, I hope to introduce a community service for Spiral Health, providing physiotherapy for patients on allowing the business to become more self sufficient and reducing referrals to community services. 
I particularly enjoy neurological physiotherapy and feel this type of scheme could work well for this patient group or on an outpatient basis and am looking to develop my skills further to enable this. This six-month project will allow me to build an evidence base and support for future projects and trials.
Kayleigh Clitheroe is a physiotherapist with Spiral Health  
Frontline Staff

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