Miriam Haddock (occupational therapist) and Angela Salisbury (physiotherapist) joined Blythe House earlier this year, in brand new roles in the new Community Hub. We’re delighted to have them on board and know they’ll make a huge difference to local patient care. Here they explain more about their roles…

Miriam – What does your role as occcupational therapist here at Blythe House entail?

As an occupational therapist (OT) at Blythe House I am part of Rehab @ The Hub and the wider multidisciplinary team at the Community Hub, also accessing services from Hospice at Home.

OT and palliative rehabilitation look different to every person, but it is based on a patient’s need to find purpose and meaning to further their quality of life. The OT is ideally placed to work with patients helping to ensure their strengths and skills are working in a suitable environment allowing them to do the things that matter to them.

Occupational Therapists in palliative rehabilitation can offer:

  • Activity analysis and advice/retraining on continuing activities and interests that are a priority to them (such as getting in and out of bed, washing and dressing, using the bath/shower/toilet, managing the stairs, preparing drinks/snacks/meals, playing with children on the floor, participation in sports)
  • Working and driving advice
  • Assessment and provision of specialist equipment enabling people to remain as safe as possible and independent
  • Assessment of muscle tone with regard to splinting for hygiene and comfort
  • Upper Limb /Hand Rehabilitation for Chemotherapy Induced Peripheral Neuropathy (CIPN)
  • Lifestyle management advice to cope with fatigue or altered level of independence
  • Assessment of moving and handling and advice regarding all transfer methods throughout stages of illness
  • Falls assessment
  • Sleep management
  • Stress/anxiety management advice and relaxation techniques
  • Cognitive assessment
  • Supporting and educating carers/family regarding patient’s changing level of functional and/or cognitive ability
  • Advice regarding coping strategies for dealing with cognitive impairments
  • Facilitating psychological adjustment to loss of function/roles in life
  • Assistance to participate in leisure activities or develop new leisure interests

The list is not exhaustive. Assessment and intervention can be carried out on a 1:1 clinic basis or as part of a symptom management or educational group.

Tell us a little bit about your OT career to date

I have moved around a lot in my 14-year career as an OT, from the Midlands to the Highlands. This is because my husband is in the Royal Air Force and so we have moved about with his career. This has allowed me to take examples of good practice from around the country and apply it to my own clinical work. I have worked for a number of acute Hospital Trusts and as part of many community teams, both as an active team member and a Team Lead. My clinical experience has been varied; ranging from neurology to surgery and oncology and general rehabilitation.

Angela – What does your role as physiotherapist here at Blythe House entail?

We’ve started here during a really exciting time of development at the Hospice and I think this will allow for flexibility in the therapy services that we build. We want to reach out in to the community and provide a service that responds to the need of our patient group. This is likely to mean our service evolves and changes as time goes by.

Physio’s can work with people with a vast range of diagnoses whether they be respiratory, neurological, lymphatic, orthopaedic or musculoskeletal and with an array of symptoms for example weakness, stiffness, instability, pain, fatigue, breathlessness, falls etc. In addition to this patients can often become debilitated and deconditioned not only due to their illness but also the side effects of treatment they are receiving.

On referral, I will carry out a full and holistic assessment and will work alongside the patient and their families to set a treatment plan towards realistic and achievable goals.

I can also offer a range of treatment delivery options including 1:1 sessions, group therapy, treatments at Blythe house or sessions within the patients home.

Tell us a little bit about your physio career to date

I qualified as a Physiotherapist from Manchester University in 2004. I worked for over 16 years at Salford Royal Hospital covering many clinical areas and departments. I specialised in Neurological Physiotherapy working with patients with a multitude of pathologies and diagnoses such as brain tumours, acquired brain injuries, MND, Parkinson’s, spinal cord injuries and with patients following Neurosurgery. Since 2010 I have worked primarily within the Stroke Service.

Both – So far, what have you found that you enjoy most about working here?

We have received a very warm welcome from everyone we have encountered and worked with so far. We have been privileged to have had a month in which research existing services, networking to understand how we can best work together to support the needs of the local community. Our new colleagues at Blythe House and Helen’s Trust are excited to begin effectively working together. We hope to support their existing services while continually striving to develop, so we are very enthusiastic to begin offering OT/Physio clinics, symptom management groups and education sessions as part of the Rehab @ The Hub.

Both – What are you most looking forward to in the coming weeks as we begin to welcome patients and visitors back to the hospice safely?

We are really looking forward to seeing and being involved in Rehab @ The Hub service, constantly striving to improve and expand the services that we can offer, whilst being able to demonstrate our therapy outcomes. We hope to reach out to the whole community and are looking forward to meeting our new patients and their families.