Verity Ford’s life-changing work as a ventilation specialist featured in an award-winning television documentary
Verity Ford has practised physiotherapy at Liverpool’s Aintree Hospital for 10 years. She is currently an advanced practioner in ventilation. At the start of the year, she featured in the award-winning BBC fly-on-the-wall documentary series, Hospital. Verity grew up in Hampshire, qualified as a physiotherapist in Manchester and lives in Liverpool.
How did you did you get involved in Hospital?
The BBC were filming the story of Sophie, a young woman who had an acute demyelination episode affecting her brain stem. She was at a hospital adjacent to ours. But our service was involved in supporting her ongoing ventilation needs and exploring decannulation of her tracheostomy, or her discharge on invasive ventilation.
Sophie’s care and meetings to plan discharge were filmed and I was filmed within this. Part of the process was to meet with the film crew to explain our role and involvement.
Did you enjoy making the programme?
It was really interesting to be involved and to have the opportunity to help Sophie tell her story. She wanted people to hear about the life changing experiences she had been through. It was a very positive experience.
Verity has worked for the hospital for 10 years
Were there challenges to working with the film makers?
Overall, there weren’t great challenges. The team producing the programme were very considerate and sensitive to the impact on Sophie and the clinicians. They took time to understand the roles of the different professionals involved.
My concern was always that Sophie was comfortable with what was being filmed. All staff would talk to her to check she was happy. For example, the crew were keen to film her attempting to vocalise with her tracheostomy cuff deflated. Secretion control was a source of self-consciousness and so boundaries were put in place to give Sophie control of how and when to be filmed.
Does the programme reflect a typical aspect of your work?
Its purpose wasn’t to represent health professionals, but to tell the patient’s story and it did this really well.
I work in the specialist multi-disciplinary team that forms our ventilation service, and looks after patients needing ventilation – both acutely and long-term within their own homes. Most are on non-invasive ventilation as a result of neuromuscular disease, respiratory diseases such as COPD, and obesity-related or restrictive thoracic disorders.
We have a wide spectrum of patients, from those requiring overnight support, to those on 24/7 invasive support.
My specific role is to support patients transferred from other critical care units with weaning failure.
I also support our tracheostomy-ventilated community patients, and so I get to work across all healthcare sectors. My role is diverse as well as hugely rewarding.
Why did you choose a career in physiotherapy?
I knew that I wanted to work in a medical profession. I have always been fascinated by science and the human body.
I love the diversity and autonomy physiotherapy can offer as a career, and the fact we use our clinical knowledge and physical skills to support people to improve their quality of life. I find the positive impact physiotherapy can make extremely rewarding.
I recognise how lucky I am in my role to have the opportunity to work with a brilliant group of health professionals, both in our unit and in the community.
How do you relax?
I enjoy being outside. In particular, walking our dog, playing and spending time with my children and husband, gardening and being active.
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