Physiotherapy works: demonstrate the benefit of physio to decision-makers, patients and the public

Physiotherapy Works plans to demonstrate the benefit of physio to decision-makers, patients and the public.  Find out how you as a CSP member can play your part.


As a CSP member, it’s all too easy to think of your society as being something that happens in the office in London, Belfast, Cardiff or Edinburgh. But the CSP is much more than that.  As CSP chief executive Karen Middleton said in Frontline (page 21, 7 May) – the CSP is its members.

The CSP’s latest programme of activity is designed to harness its energy, passion and commitment to physiotherapy to convince decision-makers across all four nations of the UK that physiotherapy works.  

The programme’s ambitious goals are outlined in Frontline (page 28, 22 January).

As Sue Browning, CSP deputy chief executive, said in a linked ‘In perspective’ column in the same issue (page 22), ‘success will only come if the role of physiotherapy in modern healthcare is fully understood, with every CSP member – no matter where they work or what they do – contributing in a bold voice’.

Building a bold voice

The Physiotherapy Works programme is about sharing something you already know and believe from your day-to-day practice. It’s about working together to speak out about the value of what we do in ways that convince health and social care decision-makers and the public that physiotherapy works.

And that process of speaking out can sometimes feel uncomfortable. Historically, professional codes of conduct for physiotherapy (and other professions) have sought to restrict advertising of services. While these codes were designed to protect the public (and professions themselves) from disreputable claims, they have created a sense that promotion of a service is somehow ‘unprofessional’.

That sense of discomfort about promoting physiotherapy can sometimes lead to us distancing ourselves from opportunities to show people outside our everyday practice that physiotherapy works.  It can become easier to ‘leave it to others’, which means we miss out on the chance to share and develop our practice by showing how physiotherapy works.  However, in the current climate, physiotherapy, like other professions, is being driven to demonstrate its added value – in terms of quality, cost and productivity.  In order to thrive we must all put our heads above the parapet, and shout about what we achieve for the people we serve.

We’ve seen what can be done when CSP members work together – from the success of the CSP’s pensions campaign is one example.  We’ve also seen the impact of the online campaign group, 38 degrees, in informing the general public about issues and pushing for policy change.  Imagine the difference we could make to the future health of the UK population if 83 per cent of CSP members were willing to sign up to the Physiotherapy Works challenge?

Celebrating our continuing professional development

The programme will give us opportunities to celebrate the unique contribution physiotherapy practice and development make to the lives of people we work with – our patients and clients, their families and communities; our peers and colleagues; and our future profession.

There will be plenty of opportunities through the programme to find the ‘just-right challenge’: something that requires you to take a small step outside your comfort zone, knowing that step is supported by the CSP.

And as you already know, learning happens as someone begins to move outside their personal comfort zone.  So by taking that small step to meet your ‘just-right challenge’ you will be supporting your own CPD as you help someone else understand how physiotherapy works. fl

Opportunities to show how Physiotherapy Works

  • Attend a CSP Physiotherapy Works Locally roadshow – a chance to find out how the programme works. Visit Nations and Regions on the CSP website and click on the link to your country or region.
  • Mark Older People’s Day on 1 October – a chance to show how physiotherapy supports older people to live longer and live well.

How to use this article to support your CPD

  • As CSP members we are used to helping the people we work with see how physiotherapy works. So why not develop your expertise in motivating, inspiring and persuading others in a new way – outside your practice setting?
  • This activity helps you take that first step – by reflecting on what makes you and physiotherapy practice unique.  Once you have unpacked your practice, it’s much easier to make a case that will convince decision-makers that physiotherapy works.
  • Think about your physiotherapy practice.  Make a list of all the things you can do, the people you work with and how your work is organised. Remember to include the breadth of your practice – the things you do routinely as well as the things that are more unusual (for you, the service, or the profession).
  • Now highlight the things in that list that stand out for you personally.  Look for activities and outcomes that generated positive feedback – interest from other people in your practice; positive comments from patients and clients, students, colleagues, your manager about your practice; recognition of your contribution to the service or profession from your peers, organisation, or network, for example.
  • Next, make a note of any common themes in your list.
  • Use your analysis from questions 1 to 3 to draw a thumbnail sketch of the qualities and outcomes that make your physiotherapy practice stand out.  As this is all about you and your practice, choose a format to record the information in a way that’s right for you (see ‘Sensational CPD’, page 29, 18 June). Your ‘sketch’ could be a list, a mind-map, a short audio recording, or a picture.
  • Make a note of what you’ve learned from this activity – about you and about your practice.
  • Keep your lists, sketch and learning outcomes together in a safe place – ready for the next CPD article in this series, which will help you develop an ‘elevator pitch’ that showcases your practice.
Gwyn Owen

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