Physio support workers help intensive care patients

A project that has seen two physiotherapy support worker posts created on a critical care ward is having impressive results.

The project at University Hospital Southampton involves two support workers being on hand in the intensive care unit (ICU) to help get patients moving sooner.

The early mobilisation project started in April 2012 and the first results are very encouraging.

Patients are being seen by physiotherapy staff an average of 1.6 days after admission, down from an average of three days previously.

And they receive an average of 26 episodes of physiotherapy during their stay on the unit, compared with just six before.

Meanwhile, overall ICU length of stay has dropped from a mean of 17.1 days to an average of 12.5 days since the project started.

Nikki Collings, senior respiratory physiotherapist at the trust, said the early mobility team provided intensive rehabilitation and exercise therapy for patients as soon as possible.

‘There are huge benefits to getting patients up and moving earlier, and we can now – with the support of the medical team – try to get them doing something at the highest level they can tolerate much quicker.

‘The assistants’ roles are quite independent, and they can work at bed level on their own – it’s working really well.’

Funding for the physiotherapy support workers was initially secured for two years, but they have now been confimed as permanent posts.

Sally Priestley

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