Seven day stroke service wins Welsh national award

Twenty physiotherapists were part of an award-winning therapy team whose seven-day pilot service improved the care of stroke patients at the University Hospital of Wales. 


Physio and project lead Niki Turner (front right), with other members of the project’s leadership team

The multidisciplinary team, from Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, won the health sector category of the All Wales Continuous Improvement Community Awards, at Margam Country Park in South Wales, earlier this year.

The award, given by the Welsh government’s leadership body Academi Wales, was in recognition of 20-week service improvement project which set out to develop a weekend service for acute stoke patients.

The project was led by physiotherapist Niki Turner, with support from Emma Cooke, the health board’s head of physiotherapy.

It involved 54 volunteer therapists and aimed to provide earlier therapy assessments in the hospital’s acute stroke unit.

Fiona Jenkins, executive director of therapies and health science at the health board, told Frontline: ‘Patients don’t choose which day of the week they have a stroke and need hospital care, so it was important we looked at ways to tailor our services to improve patient care and recovery.

‘Therapists supported the pilot by changing their working hours, and I’m really grateful for their commitment to this.’

Beneficial outcome included

  • average length of stay on the unit reduced by 2.5 days 
  • reduced time from hospital admission to therapy assessments 
  • earlier commencement of rehabilitation
  • appropriate and timely nutritional support
  • improved patient and carer experience

International interest and continued funding

Ms Jenkins said that, before the project, stroke patients admitted at the weekend were unlikely to see therapists until Monday, which delayed an initial assessment and the start of any rehabilitation.

‘By reducing length of stay, less stroke beds are needed, additional staffing can be funded and the patient experience is much improved, as well as job satisfaction for our staff,’ she said.

‘Despite finances being tight, our health board has funded the business case for the service to continue.

‘And I presented the findings from this study at the World Confederation for Physical Therapy in Cape Town in July this year. There was much international interest, and support for this model of care.’

Author: Robert Millett

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