With many services limited to urgent appointments during the coronavirus pandemic, therapy teams have found themselves taking on a range of different roles.
A number of therapists at South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust have been temporarily redeployed to support stroke and rehabilitation services in community hospitals, ensuring their skills are still put to good use.
Podiatrist Sharon Young has been redeployed to the stroke therapy team at Redcar Primary Care Hospital where she works closely with the team of physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech therapists.
“My redeployment role is to help with showering, washing, dressing, physiotherapy; basically help wherever it is needed,” said Sharon.
“The physiotherapy and occupational therapy roles seem to all merge into one; working together to get the patients rehabilitated. I have learned so many new skills that I will take back with me.”
Having worked in orthotics for 16 years, Fiona Roy was both excited and nervous at the thought of redeployment but the stroke team gave her a warm welcome.
“Although they too had been uprooted and their normal work had changed due to COVID-19, they remained focused and patient orientated,” said Fiona.
“I have learnt a great deal about neurorehabilitation and the pride I have felt in helping each patient has been immense.”
Podiatrist Emma Jackson said they were given training before being asked to assist with patients.
“Having worked with the podiatry team for over 13 years the thought of having to integrate into another team doing a job I was not skilled at was nerve-racking,” said Emma. “But the teams were amazingly welcoming.
“I was able to transfer my skills in dealing with patients and have learned invaluable information on mobility.
“In such unprecedented and uncertain times to have been made to feel like ‘part of the family’ and to have been given the opportunity to gain new skills and knowledge; I cannot help but look on the bright side of the situation.
“I have met a fantastic team of people who embody what the NHS stands for and whom the NHS should be proud to call its own. My only regret will be not being able to be part of two teams!”
Podiatrist Tracey Wilkins said they were each given a therapist to follow and she was able to offer foot care skills if needed.
“With the general therapy team I learned a lot about helping patients with mobility, getting them moving safely and enabling them to go home with any aids that they needed,” said Tracey.
“I will now always have a better understanding of stroke patients and the complications they have and mobility in older people which will enable me to advise them on exercises to keep them moving.”
As a newly qualified podiatrist Jeanie Fong had recently undergone manual handling training and this was put to good use.
“My podiatry skills and knowledge were always welcomed throughout patient assessment,” said Jeanie.
“Everyone worked together as a team from different backgrounds with one main aim; to get patients as fit as possible ready for discharge.
“Every time a patient was discharged; the sense of achievement was immense.”
Service lead Kirsty Jones added: “Everyone has been very accommodating in trying different ways of working and has shared their own knowledge and skills within the team.
“It has been a pleasure having them all in the service and I truly thank each and every one of them for their dedication.”