AHPs in profile - Tracy Walker, Service Manager, Rehabilitation Services

The last in our series of Allied Health Professional stories to mark AHP Day 2018 features our North Manchester rehabilitation service manager, Tracy Walker.

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I’m an occupational therapist by background but am the overall service manager for rehabilitation services across North Manchester.

Over the last five years we’ve done a lot of pioneering work. We’ve developed the brand new community neuro team. That’s a multidisciplinary team that brings together physio, occupational therapy, psychology, speech and language, neuro rehab consultant and rehab assistants alongside nursing.

We’ve also developed a community stroke team with both teams managing stroke and neuro patients in North Manchester coming out of hospital or living in the community. I also manage the generic rehabilitation team of physios and OTs who manage the falls patients and support people who are housebound with mobility and re gaining independence.

I’m also clinical lead for the operational delivery network of Greater Manchester for stroke – helping to improve community stroke services across GM. That’s supporting commissioners and providers to design and implement effective community stroke rehabilitation like the model we have in North Manchester - which is also being used to influence a national model of community stroke rehab.

I feel we’ve got a big role as AHPs to support patients out of hospital. We’re the third largest staffing group in the NHS.

We’ve managed to reduce length of stay by around 21 days in the in-patient neuro rehab unit by providing the right rehab in the community which is a really significant. We’re all about giving people their independence, helping them regain their function. We also support end of life and are doing a lot of work with nursing homes, helping prevent falls and that prevents fractures.

One of the big differences we’ve seen is that we’ve got a lot more AHP advanced practitioners like Payal with advanced nursing and medical skills alongside their skills. They’re making a real difference. Sophie Wallington, the advanced practitioner in the crisis team for example, has developed a back pain pathway to help divert away from the GP so if an ambulance visits someone with back pain we can step in and provide care in the community. Therapists are going out and providing complex rehab in the community now that traditionally was done in the hospital so we are supporting hospitals to reduce length of stay.

We’re also working closely with our neighbourhood teams with key worker roles. We have a big part to play in early discharge and keeping people out of hospital. We run falls classes, Parkinson’s Disease classes and fatigue management classes. We’re delivering these in local community facilities rather than clinics to make them more accessible.

We’re doing a really innovative bit of work with our neuro rehabilitation consultant in our stroke and neuro team trying to deliver true multidisciplinary rehab closer to home. Patients are able to access our consultant at home and clinics locally rather than travel to Salford. That’s therapists working in partnership with hospital consultants in the community which is very innovative.

A lot of my therapists are true clinical leaders – they’re designing services and are skilled in using data to show the difference that our way of working makes. As part of Manchester Local Care Organisation we’re establishing AHP leadership in the community so we’re an integral part of everything that is being done to improve services in the city.

I’d encourage anyone to look at a career as an AHP. The roles are really exciting. The roles are all degree level as you need to be registered. As part of the degree you do upwards of 1,000 hours of clinical practice alongside you degree on placement.

Developing services in Manchester

There’s some things we’re doing in Manchester that are really advanced and we have had the freedom to lead and been supported to create and design services and take our ideas forward. We’re challenging things that have always been done in a certain way - working in nursing homes has been a great example where we’ve been able to give support direct to homes rather than needing to go through the GP which is having a huge impact on people accessing physio and occupational therapy sooner.

The skill levels of our teams is something that we’re incredibly proud of. We can and do make a real difference to people. AHPs bring value in lots of different areas. The national drive is to treat people at home rather than in hospital and you need the support of AHPs to do that. Without that support in the community you can’t keep people at home. We’re right in the middle of the exciting changes happening in the city here and across the country.