Marie Constable, a Northumbrian physiotherapist tells us what she loves about her job on National AHPs Day
My name’s Marie Constable, I am an orthopaedic physiotherapist within Northumbria Healthcare. Our team cover; elective orthopaedics, working with patients who choose to come into hospital to have a planned operation, trauma orthopaedics, working with patients who have been involved in an accident and / or suffered broken bones, and orthogeriatric rehabilitation, helping elderly patients gain strength and confidence with becoming mobile and independent again when they are discharged from hospital.
The overall aim of a physiotherapist is to work closely with a multidisciplinary team and aid the patient to restore movement and function when someone has been affected by an injury, illness or a disability.
Our general duties start with assessing our patients, we then go on to provide equipment, an exercise programme, a respiratory treatment programme, walking and balance work, gym rehabilitation and manual therapy, which are all key in improving confidence and mobility. We help make it possible for patients to be discharged home safely and help open up bed availability sooner, which helps ease pressures on the NHS.
AHPs day 2020 is a day of celebration for all Allied Health Professionals, and to highlight why they are crucial to the NHS. This year it is more important than ever to promote our profession, what we do and why we do it.
Northumbria physiotherapy are a progressive and innovative team, we are always looking to expand our roles and develop our skills. We have seen an extension in our roles so much over the past 30 years and it is exciting to think of how we can continue to change, moving forward. We have introduced physiotherapists into our Emergency Department, GP practices and within the community to help patients in a variety of settings.
The outbreak of Covid-19 saw many of our physiotherapy team (myself included) transferred to our Northumbria Specialist Emergency Care Hospital, to become respiratory physiotherapists. We began assessing and treating people with COVID-19, providing physiotherapy treatment plans. This includes providing oxygen, breathing exercises, helping with secretion clearance, specific positioning to help open up airways, putting patients on non-invasive ventilators, breathlessness management, helping to mobilise people and improve their strength post Covid-19.
As a wider physiotherapy team, we pulled together and supported each other in our new roles in a challenging and unprecedented situation. We had to wear personal protective equipment, gowns, masks, goggles at all times, something that was unknown, which made communicating with our patients fairly strenuous, as well as physically and emotionally tiring.
For me, the biggest challenge was providing emotional support to our patients who were incredibly poorly with Covid-19. Understandably these patients were anxious, worried and weak, as well as feeling isolated due to visiting being suspended to help control the spread of the virus.. I felt it was our duty, to not only carry out our physiotherapy duties, but to also spend time sitting with our patients, talking and reassuring them. For me personally, doing this whilst wearing PPE all day and then coming home to support my husband who was home-schooling our two children, alongside his full-time job, was an exhausting time.
My team at work is my extended family. We have been through something unique together and I think we did a great job. We have all pulled together in adversity. We are stronger together and can fight off Covid-19, as the NHS and as a nation, if we all follow the rules.