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Living Life to the Full With Physiotherapy

5 December 2016

As a senior physiotherapist at the Hospice my role is to explore and support patient’s goals and wishes by providing advice and treatment options to better manage symptoms of their life limiting condition. By doing this I hope to enable them to enjoy the time they have left focusing their energy towards what is fulfilling and meaningful to them.

I also aim to promote exercise and activity appropriate to a person’s level of function and motivate and support them to achieve their rehabilitation goals, whilst maintaining realistic expectations.

This is something that I find particularly challenging working in palliative care as at times, despite a person’s enthusiasm and determination, the inevitability of a long term condition means that wishes and expectations can be difficult to meet given the realistic nature of their progressive illness.

However, working within a wider therapy team including a Lead Physiotherapist, Occupational Therapists and Volunteer Complementary Therapists I think problem solving as a team with patients and their families to identify the best solution is something we do well!

I joined Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice in April 2016 in a rotational 9 month post therefore I will be due to rotate back to the acute hospital setting at the start of December, unfortunately just missing out on Christmas at the Hospice.

In my experience, wherever I am working it is important to recognise that Christmas is a particularly special time of year for most people and therefore for patients in care settings away from the comfort of their homes and families, it must be especially difficult over the festive period.

Since working at the Hospice I have lost count of the number of patients who told me the Hospice “is not what I expected”, all of them recognising the negative stigma associated with the word hospice and all reported they were pleasantly surprised. I feel the common misconception of patients that a hospice means care only at the very end stage of an illness has resulted in patients receiving hospice care later in their journey. Continued efforts need to be made to change the misconceptions of hospice care.

I have a lot of lovely memories from working at the Hospice but the one that stands out in my mind is working with a 95 year old lady to regain her mobility enabling her to attend her nephew’s funeral which was so important to her. Subsequently the lady was safely discharged home with a good level of function and mobility, pleased to have achieved her goal to return home to see out the rest of summer viewing her garden.

Having had a member of my extended family cared for at the Hospice some years ago it has been great to have the opportunity to be part of the team now in delivering excellent and compassionate care to optimise a person’s quality of life for the time they have left. This has motivated me even more to be involved in fundraising and as I am fortunate to have a large family and great friends, I am hosting a Fancy Dress Fundraising Event where all proceeds from the night will be donated to Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice.

Thank you Louisa for sharing how the Hospice helps those who come to us live life to the full through physiotherapy.

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