The Covid-19 pandemic has created many challenges and opportunities for the profession over the past 18 months. Members have gone above and beyond to support patients and, in doing so, raised the profile of the profession, writes Mindy Dalloway
The value of raising the profile of your team or service can never be underestimated.
Not only does it benefit your profile within your organisation, but it also helps to promote the profession to the wider public. A high profile also helps to protect against the risk of cuts to services and boosts staff morale.
The musculoskeletal physiotherapy team at Ashford & St Peter’s Hospital (ASPH) in Chertsey, Surrey, certainly achieved this in more ways than one. Not only were physios there early adopters of virtual consultations, shifting their services online ahead of the pandemic, they were also regional winners of the NHS Parliamentary Awards in the ‘NHS Futures’ category, and were shortlisted for the national award this year.
They were nominated for the award by their local MP Ben Spencer, who was impressed by the team’s initiative to relocate some physiotherapy services to gyms in the community. Dr Spencer had visited the team at its gym base at River Bourne Health Club, where physios had access to a wellness area with four private clinic rooms, a separate waiting area and new office, contracted out to the NHS long term.
Dr Spencer was impressed by the fact patients viewed their rehabilitation as exercise first and foremost, arriving in gym gear for their sessions, and continuing self-management post-therapy by visiting the gym up to four times per week. For many patients, a gym setting rather than a hospital one changed their mindset from one of being ‘treated’ to one of being ready for exercise and gave them the confidence to adopt a more active lifestyle.
Ryan Mackie, clinical lead for the physio team, says,
The feedback gained from patients that they “no longer felt like a patient” highlighted the value of de-medicalising our patients and helping them build the knowledge and skills to self-manage successfully.
The success of this approach meant that the team was able to secure treatment areas for outpatients of the MSK, pelvic health and paediatrics physios at two more gyms. Feedback from pelvic health patients showed they felt more comfortable in this setting for more intimate examinations. While staff said they preferred to be somewhere that felt more active with access to more advanced equipment, particularly for patients with higher level needs. It had the added bonus of ample parking for both patients and staff.
At one of the gyms, in a local authority leisure centre, they now have five new clinic rooms and space to hold exercise classes, plus a staff break-out room, a soft play area and studio space for the paediatric team’s younger patients. Gym floor space there can accommodate 12-year-olds, older children and young adults.
Overall they have achieved a win-win situation for staff, patients and the local community, which was recognised by their local MP. The team was delighted to receive recognition for its achievements in the most challenging times of the pandemic, which Mackie calls ‘a testament to the team’s ability to think progressively and adapt to change’.
The physios at ASPH are now looking to the future, securing funding from Sport England to produce videos to help older people who have deconditioned during lockdown as well as setting up a YouTube channel to develop further videos to support patients.
While patients remain enthusiastic about being able to access healthcare nearer to their own homes, having new sites has also prompted a rethink of service provision. One team’s innovation has created endless opportunities to provide top-class services within modern facilities.
The CSP may have supported the Ashford & St Peter’s Hospital (ASPH) team to approach their MP to gain recognition for their work and raise its public profile. But the team’s success was also down to members’ ability to influence senior healthcare decision-makers and promote their work.
ASPH team members belong to the iCSP influencers network, which all CSP members can subscribe to. It features a series of blogs from members, including the ASPH team, containing tips and advice on how to influence decisions on service provision and investment. It also contains helpful CSP resources including the Influencing Toolkit, which helps you raise the profile of the physiotherapy profession by providing the tools and ideas to influence a range of stakeholders. It covers information on who to influence as well as helpful hints, tips and ideas on how to influence. You can also find case studies from fellow CSP members sharing their experiences. There is also a section on social media, providing the first steps on how to build your virtual network and start influencing online.
Want to get started influencing to showcase your service?
In five minutes:
- subscribe to the iCSP influencers network and note down ideas and inspiration for your own influencing or service promotion goals
- build up your virtual network by following local commissioning/planning groups, regional networks or influential people on Twitter. Tweet and re-tweet key messages about physiotherapy
- email your organisation’s communications team inviting them to a meeting to discuss how you can promote what your service does for patients
In 15 minutes:
- prepare a patient case study that supports your ask and demonstrates how your service transforms lives
- write a letter or send an email to your local patient body and offer to give a talk at their next meeting
- write a blog and post it on your social media platforms about the benefits of physiotherapy for example the health benefits of exercise and how physiotherapists can help
In 30 minutes:
- email your elected representatives with responsibility for health to ask if they would be interested in arranging a service visit
- meet with your organisation’s communications team to discuss ideas with them on how to promote what you do for patients
- contact your local patient body and find out what events they have coming up and whether you can offer a virtual or in-person contribution, either through a presentation or stand
Let us raise your profile
Find out how If you would like to raise the profile of your team’s achievements but just don’t have the time, the CSP can help. We support members to get the recognition they deserve, whether the objective is to raise the profile of a service internally, influence a healthcare decision-maker for increased funding, raise public awareness of a new or existing service, or campaign against cuts.
To find out how, email the campaigns and regional engagement team on email@example.com or call CSP Enquiries on 0207 306 6666 and ask to speak to the engagement officer for your area.
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