Using data to campaign against loss of space

If you are concerned about loss of space in your service, it's vital to use data to show how valuable it is.

Data about how the space is used

To begin with, you may want to think about transactional data. Examples include:

  • How many hours per day is the space used for?
  • How many patients use the space?
  • What types of patients use the space? Think about conditions, levels of dependency or complexity
  • Are there any guidelines that support rehab for those patients – for example, the Sentinel Stroke National Audit Programme (SSNAP)
  • How many staff use the space and what do they use it for?

In summary: making the most of data

  • Think about how your rehab space adds value to your service and patient outcomes
  • Demonstrate this with robust data, presented in ways that speak to your target audience
  • Enhance your cause with case studies and support from wider stakeholders
  • Consider alternatives if your service or population would benefit from them

Data about what the space is like

Transactional data can be supported by environmental information. Examples include:

  • Where is the space located relative to the patients?
  • Can the space enable two patients to be supported simultaneously by one therapist?
  • Can the space accommodate specialist rehab equipment and staff?

If alternative areas have been suggested, compare what the spaces offer your service. For example, do a time/motion analysis comparing using the old and new spaces.

Demonstrate the value of rehab space

You are likely to have the most impact with data showing the value of your rehab space for patient outcomes and finances. Examples include:

  • Length of stay – for example, has length of stay increased as a consequence of losing space? How much does a reduction in length of stay save versus the cost of maintaining your rehab space?
  • For outpatient and community spaces, you could instead consider the length of the episode of care
  • Patient outcomes
  • Will the loss of space impact on health inequalities in your area – for example, moving to a different location may prevent people from accessing the space via public transport 

It's important to document any unmet need within your service due to loss or potential loss of rehab space. For example, how many patients wouldn't be able to receive the most appropriate treatment due to the rehab space not being available or the space being insufficient for what you wanted to do?

Would losing the space exacerbate health inequalities for your local population in any other ways? 

Could you use data to evidence other things that may be affected by a loss of space – for example, would patients go home with higher intensity care packages if you were unable to carry out optimum rehabilitation? 

Collect data ahead of time

It may be difficult to get data retrospectively, which is why we’re asking all services to look at the data you collect, and consider the following things: 

  • What aspects of your service do you need data for?
  • How can you best demonstrate the impact and value of your service? 
  • Does the data you collect reflect this?
  • If not, how can you adapt your data collection?

Once you have the data, make sure you present it in a way that is easy for people to understand and speaks to their priorities. Sometimes, graphs and charts can help to illustrate points better than words.

What is best for patients?

While threats to space can be challenging, it’s important to think objectively about what is best for your patients and your team. Other spaces may be more beneficial – for example, a smaller space in a location closer to patients may be used more and result in them being less tired from travelling. Patients may prefer to be treated in different spaces or locations. Have you sought their views to ensure they are represented? 

If you have an underused space, think about the reasons for this. There may be better alternatives for your service and population. Read our Frontline article about how moving into community and primary care settings could be an opportunity for services.

Another option could be to follow the lead of the team at Ashford and St Peter’s Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust in Surrey and collaborate with a local community gym to use their facilities​​​.

Share your experience

Have you used data to protect patient access to rehabilitation space? If so we would like to hear from you. Please email including your contact details and location.

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