We caught up with the members of the Therapies Team who are based at Birmingham St Mary’s Hospice to find out how the team has changed following the merger and the team’s upcoming projects to support patients.

Hi everyone! Thanks for taking the time out to chat to us today. Firstly, can you tell us a bit about the team? 

Amy Byfield, Clinical Specialist Occupational Therapist, says: “We’re a small team, two Physiotherapists Jess and Emma, I’m an Occupational Therapist, Kathy is a Therapy Support Worker, and we have Mia who is a Physio student. We have recently become a bigger team with the merger with John Taylor Hospice, so we are working towards joint working across both sites to have more consistency.

“We have recently developed a joint criterion for referrals which will be launching soon. We’re really looking forward to this so we have balance across both sites and to let people know there equity across services.

“We have also recently employed a new Occupational Therapist who will be starting in the New Year, and we hope she will give us more scope to develop community services a bit more.”

Can you also tell us about the services your team offers? 

Emma Hayward, Senior Specialist Physiotherapist, says: “We work across three settings, Inpatient Unit, Day Hospice Services and in the community. We support a lot of goal assessments, asking what the patient wants to achieve. We know that these people have a life-limiting condition but what do they want to do with the time that they have, and what are the priorities they are working towards.

“Then we look practically at support mechanisms, which might be assessments of their mobility or function in order to help them achieve those goals. Some of the treatment options we might give are around things like equipment provision, or exercise as well as lots of other signposting or support in the community.

“The other side of our work is symptom control, this might be respiratory, lack of mobility or pain, fatigue, and poor sleep hygiene.”

Amy adds: “It’s also helping people to plan for their preferred place of care and place of death and how we can facilitate that in terms of the function that they have or don’t have and the equipment they will need to support that. There is also the emotional wellbeing too and helping patients accept their baseline.”

Have your tasks as a team changed at all since the merger?  

Emma says: “Yes, the provision of care is now provided purely by the hospices. We are also doing a lot more joint learning and joint team planning with John Taylor. This is such a positive thing for us. We are a wider Therapies Team; we have a bigger voice.”

Amy adds: “We also have one manager across both sites which gives us more consistency. We have also had the opportunity to employ new staff which will have benefits in the future.”

Are there any projects you’re working on currently? 

Emma adds: “We have a big launch at the moment on palliative rehabilitation. We have collated some data of where other members of the MDT think we are on delivering palliative rehab as a whole hospice team – this is clinical MDT led, but we have tried to gauge from all types of staff, doctors, nurses, HCAs, social workers, where they think we are using an outcome measure in terms of palliative rehab.

“Our aim next year is to deliver some informal and more formal types of training, give more opportunities to members of staff and also develop our own team with people who are passionate about palliative care to support the team having an established ethos in palliative rehab ideally across all three settings.”

Amy says: “The aim is to empower our patients to be as independent as they can. We know it promotes wellbeing and a greater sense of self-worth if they have more control and say in their care. The continued alignment with John Taylor is also one of our big projects at the moment.”

Do you have any other goals for the team? 

Emma says: “We want to do a lot of developmental work; Jess being employed as a newly-qualified member of the team we want to care for them from the beginning of their journey. So, a lot of what we want to achieve as a team is development of skills and give people an opportunity to join in palliative care from an early stage of their career.”

Thank you all for sharing your stories, it was great to learn more about the work you all do.

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