AHPs in profile - Jenny Dunn, physiotherapist and service lead

The fourth of our features for Allied Health Professionals Day 2018, looking at the work of our teams working in the community in Manchester.

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The community rehabilitation team is a team of physiotherapists and occupational therapists.

We provide rehabilitation for patients in their own home who aren’t able to easily attend clinics. That can be for a whole range of different reasons – orthopaedic, respiratory and generally frail elderly patients with mobility problems.  We also run the falls prevention service so a lot of our work is screening for medical problems causing falls, falls prevention and helping provide rehab and strength and balance training.

My role is that of service lead but predominantly I’m a physiotherapist. As a physio I assess those patients and we formulate a treatment plan specific to their needs. It’s not just a physiotherapy assessment we do though. We carry out a holistic assessment to see their full needs and signpost to other services in the community or social services.

As a team we work in an integrated way, working across integrated neighbourhood teams. AHPs are at the forefront of changing services. Alongside the long term rehab needs we do have physiotherapists across all sorts of services across North Manchester.

We have representation in the crisis services that support early discharge and preventing avoidable admissions to hospital. Those higher level physios respond to ambulance calls to stop people ending up in A&E.

As physiotherapists, what we do is want the patient wants us to do. We look at the goals the patient has. It might be mobilising, increasing their function and allowing them to get on with everyday life. In the community the type of patients we see tend to be frail and we work to support what will help their everyday life – getting upstairs to use the bathroom or getting out to the shops. It’s about supporting their goals and their independence.

We look at equipment adaptations and aids that can support them to do that. Function is about exercise programmes to increase strength and balance and pain management. We know that rehab works but our aim is to get people to a position where they can access the long term services they need in the community rather than constantly needing rehabilitation.

We receive around 150 referrals a month and an average physio normally does a new assessment a day and up to five follow up visits. Rehab assistants are doing between six to eight visits a day. We telephone triage all of our referrals to make sure our service is appropriate.

One of the big things we have done is allow anybody and everybody to refer to our service. Carers and patient themselves direct refer to us so it doesn’t need a professional to do that. We prioritise based on clinical need and see our patients within one and three weeks – but we can see them sooner if it’s urgent.

How I became a physio

I got into this career when I was at a careers session at school. In my head I wanted to something in healthcare and I popped my name down for physiotherapy, did a week’s work experience and loved it.

The best thing about working in Manchester

The best bit about the job and working in the community for me is that the rehab we do makes a real and immediate difference to people’s lives. We’re working with people in their homes, seeing their real life and seeing the difference that we can make to them. The patients make us laugh and smile everyday.