Oluwaseun Ogunkunle loves being part of a multidisciplinary team because everyone works together to ensure the best outcome for patients
Oluwaseun Ogunkunle is therapy lead at Central and North West London NHS Trust in the new Home First team. This is a joint NHS and local council initiative to provide rehabilitation at patients’ homes in Milton Keynes. She was born in Ibadan, Nigeria, and qualified as a physiotherapist there. Three weeks after giving birth to a son, she returned to Ibadan University to complete an MSc in orthopaedics, sport and recreation. Two weeks before his arrival, she passed her driving test. Since 2006, she has practised as a physiotherapist in the UK.
How does it feel to work so closely with other professions?
I have been part of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) for a long time, starting with the intermediate care team in Northampton where I worked for seven years caring for people in their own homes.
The importance of sharing knowledge between professionals to achieve better patient care cannot be over-emphasised. The feeling of just having other professionals in same room to sort out a patient’s care plan is amazing. When I turn my head and see the GP, geriatrician, psychologist, nurses, social services staff and others, it gives me confidence that this going to be a good day for the patient – and for me.
Home First started six months ago. Was it a risk to join a new service?
Not at all. I was previously part of Milton Keynes’ high impact team, which provided rehabilitation in care homes across this large town. It became one of the seven teams that then made up Home First.
For the previous 12 years, I was a community physiotherapist in rehabilitation. Since I gained an Open University diploma in chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, respiratory care has been my specialism. Most of my Home Care patients are 50 and over and many have chest infections. So my specialism enables me to contribute well to the work of this rapid response team.
What does an MDT role mean for you as a physio?
I am gaining knowledge and skills to work at and above my required level. The Home First multidisciplinary team is made up of ‘trusted assessors’. This means we are all required to have a basic knowledge about the expertise of other professionals. It enables us to assess patients as first contact practitioners.
Over the years, I have learned a lot through working with other therapists and nurses to achieve required goals. It has given me confidence to manage my own patients and be able to signpost them appropriately to other professionals and services, where this is appropriate.
What are your biggest challenges?
Many of my patients have dementia. Rehabilitation for people with dementia is a specialised skill. You need to put yourself in their shoes.
I acquired better skills through dementia training at the University of Bedfordshire. It gave me a better understanding of this patient group and of the best approaches to rehabilitation. In particular, I learned the importance of calm support.
And the rewards of your job?
By treating people at home, I manage to reduce call outs and attendances at emergency departments.
Enabling respiratory patients to self-manage their conditions can be so rewarding. Breathing difficulties can create panic and anxiety for individuals. Helping someone to breathe is like giving them their life back.
How could physiotherapy for older people be improved?
Through better training of the health and social care workforce to support our older population. I would argue that this should be mandatory if we are going to achieve better outcomes for older people.
What’s your birthday message for the NHS at 70?
As a member of staff, the flexibility and job security the NHS gives me is beyond price. For all of us, being able to access free healthcare is phenomenal. So my birthday message is – keep up the good work, it’s enormously appreciated.
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