Personal experience plays a role in promoting physiotherapy, says Karen Middleton, the society’s CEO.
I almost feel I could turn my In Person into a blog about my experiences as a family member of someone who has had a stroke. I won't, but there are some interesting parallels going on in my life right now. In my last column, I talked of the links between leadership and being a clinician and how the little things matter. Now that my relative has been discharged home, I am seeing the difference community rehabilitation can make and why our #backingrehab campaign is so important.
Despite the excellent care in hospital, I was really unsure of my 92-year-old relative's ability to manage at home, but the in-patient and community team had enough confidence for us all. My relative wanted to go home but was anxious about discharge. Hospital seemed a safer option. I have heard many patients describe the 'cliff edge' of discharge but I saw for myself what this anxiety can do - even with a full rehab team and a reablement care team due to be on hand.
I have seen how the care package my relative has been given to start with can be reduced as her rehabilitation takes effect and she can do more for herself. I have seen how the equipment and modifications that had been delivered before she got home can provide greater independence, which gives her more confidence. And I know how more relaxed we, her family, are now about her being at home, at least for the time being.
What I also know, however, is that this is not what happens everywhere. Andrew Marr talked to Frontline (2 November 2016) about this and the difficulty he had getting rehab at home, despite amazing rehab in hospital. This is why improved community rehabilitation is such a priority for the CSP. We know it works and we know it can save money. It's good for patients, their families and tax payers and it's something physiotherapists are the experts in, whether it is neurological, respiratory, cardiac, falls or MSK rehab. Physiotherapy is rehabilitation.
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That's why it's so important that we have led the #backingrehab campaign, using it as the basis of our political influence. It appeals on so many levels. It can help reduce demand on the system, deliver secondary prevention, speed up discharge and save money.
For the general election, we contacted every single candidate, whatever their political persuasion, and asked them to support the campaign. 158 candidates affirmed their support. In terms of influence, we have initiated a relationship and we have a hook to go back to them in future.
Our next move is critical. We need members locally to provide meaning to the campaign with real-life examples. In England, it will help influence the sustainability and transformation partnerships (STPs) as they develop their implementation plans. We need to support what we say with real-life examples of the difference rehabilitation can make.
For all the wonderful things that hospital teams do to save lives, those lives require rehabilitation in order for people to return to a fulfilling and enjoyable life.
On a personal level, I'm watching as my relative gets used to being back in her home; watching her to see she is safe and check her confidence is growing. Worrying a bit, too, about what might happen next. Suddenly the policies are real to me and my family. It's also made we realise we absolutely must shift the narrative from saving lives and mortality rates. What matters to most is the quality of the life people lead.
We need, as a profession, to show that rehabilitation can help to deliver that quality. Even as chief executive at the CSP, I can only do so much to change that, but perhaps by talking about my own family's experience I'm making a start. You could too. Think about how you can use your patients' experience, or that of a family member, to support our #backingrehab campaign. Encourage and empower your patients, families and the general public to speak up.
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