The CSP launches resources to help members promote and protect aquatic therapy and hydrotherapy pools. Mindy Dalloway explains why
The CSP has developed helpful resources for members working in aquatic therapy to help promote the value of their services and ensure the future of hydrotherapy pools.
During the Covid-19 pandemic, many hydrotherapy pools across the UK were temporarily closed and others closed permanently.
Access to aquatic therapy is critical for many patients needing rehabilitation or management of their long term conditions. For many patients having access to aquatic therapy is the main way they can remain active and manage pain, so it is vital that members are empowered to safeguard and promote their aquatic therapy services and hydrotherapy pools.
As well as top tips on how to start with promoting and protecting your service, the resources page on the CSP website has a detailed list of FAQs covering what to do if your pool is under threat or has been closed.
There are also downloadable template letters that you can customise to help you write to a decision-maker about your service. There is a template letter to help you promote the service and another to help influence decision-makers to protect a hydrotherapy pool if it is under threat.
We will also be adding to this online content with video footage showcasing a young patient’s aquatic physiotherapy journey and our appeal for better access for all those who would benefit. This will be helpful for members to share with decision-makers to help with influencing and promotion.
These resources have been supported by the national Aquatic Physiotherapy and Hydrotherapy Alliance, which includes the Aquatic Therapy Association of Chartered Physiotherapists (ATACP), the National Axial Spondyloarthritis Society (NASS) and Swim England. Resources:'Protect your aquatic physiotherapy service'
Using your influence – how the support of a local MP can help
In 2020 the hydrotherapy pool at Royal Berkshire Hospital was temporarily closed due to Covid. Berkshire West CCG initiated a public consultation period to de-commission NHS funding for aquatic therapy and only provide this service for patients through the Individual Funding Request (IFR) process.
After this decision was made, Royal Berkshire Hospital permanently closed the hydrotherapy pool in 2021. As a result, patients in Berkshire who receive approval via the IFR process now have their treatment at two private pools in the region.
The CSP South Central localism team, made up of a campaigns officer, an organising officer, a professional adviser and a senior negotiating officer, took action on behalf of members and patients to question the CCG’s decision, enlisting the support of local MP and cabinet member Alok Sharma.
The team began a campaign involving the local media and launched a public letter-writing initiative to MPs in the region which involved stakeholders and patient groups.
This resulted in gaining the support of Mr Sharma, who helped apply pressure on the CCG to re-assess their IFR process and involve the CSP, NASS and the ATACP in the assessment of the alternative hydrotherapy pool sites.
After a period of campaigning spanning 18 months, the work is still ongoing, but the success in influencing the CCG’s decisions and highlighting the vital role that aquatic therapy has for their local patients was largely as a result of the CSP securing the support of the local MP.
Learning from success
The new improved hydrotherapy pool in Buckinghamshire
Earlier this year the physiotherapy team at Amersham Hospital in Buckinghamshire achieved success with the official opening of an upgraded hydrotherapy facility.
As well as increasing the size of the pool, accessibility for patients was improved with new safety measures, a new ceiling hoist and a lower ceiling to allow for better air temperature regulation and energy efficiency.
The improvements have enabled the team to offer more variety of aquatic therapy techniques to more patients.
Kirsty Campbell, team lead of musculoskeletal physiotherapy at Buckinghamshire Healthcare NHS Trust, shares her tips on how to promote aquatic therapy and achieve investment in hydrotherapy pool facilities:
- regularly collate patient feedback and put this on display on noticeboards and share with your senior leadership team and communications colleagues. Highlight the difference that aquatic therapy makes to your patients and what they can achieve in the water that would not be possible on land.
- invite a member of your senior leadership team to visit your aquatic therapy service so that they can see at first hand the difference aquatic therapy makes to a variety of patients.
- don’t be afraid to ask for more. I could see that a ceiling mounted hoist would be better for the new improved pool, so I did my research and took time to investigate the benefits to help convince others that it was worth the investment. It turned out the new improved hoist would be no more expensive to buy than replacing the old hydraulic one. Patients can now access the pool at lots of different entry points and there is less manual handling for staff so my research proved to be time well spent.
- don’t give-up! You may have to repeat yourself and follow-up with people again and again, but tenacity will pay off. If you know the benefits that further investment can make commit to making sure those who make decisions on services understand the difference too.
- collaborate with others who have the skills to make your case for investment robust. As a team we worked together using our different skills and expertise and worked with others in our trust to make the project a success, including finance, property services and communications.
Your local CSP Team can help
In addition to offering helpful resources for members, the CSP localism teams can help if your pool is under threat of closure and advise and support your representation at key meetings with decision-makers. They can also offer advice about contacting your local MP and enlisting their support. Your local MP can help by:
- calling the hospital trust and CCG to account for their decisions and apply pressure on them to involve key stakeholders and patient groups in decisions.
- chair key meetings with the relevant decision-makers and stakeholders.
- raise the profile of your service.
If you would like to take this action in relation to your aquatic therapy and hydrotherapy pool service it is important that you alert your local CSP team as early as possible.
For further advice and support email firstname.lastname@example.org or call CSP Enquiries 0207 306 6666 and ask to speak to your local campaigns and regional engagement officer.
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