For International Women’s Day we interviewed some of Barts Health most inspiring women. Today’s article features the AHP lead for the Tower Hamlets Community Neuro Team at Mile End Hospital.
Siobhan said: “I qualified as a Physiotherapist in 1999 in Northern Ireland and have worked across London and New Zealand. I am now the lead for the Tower Hamlets Community Neuro team (THCNT) which is comprised of physiotherapists, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, speech and language therapists, a nurse, rehab support workers and an administrator.
“We provide rehabilitation and disability management to patients in their own home, as an out-patient at Mile End Hospital or in any other community setting i.e. their place of work or gym etc. Examples of the conditions we support are Multiple Sclerosis, Parkinson’s Disease, Spinal Cord Injury, Brain injury and neuro muscular disorders. We take a multidisciplinary approach to maximise quality of life and independence.
“It’s an emotional role as you see a lot of people confronted by life’s worst case scenario.”
The role involves supporting people manage their condition and the impact the condition has on their lives and the lives of their loved ones.
Siobhan said: “The team provides hands on rehabilitation, motor re-learning, compensatory strategies, exercise programs, repetitive task practice, equipment and adaptations to help clients manage their symptoms and help them to engage in meaningful activities. We help clients communicate meaningfully and minimise the risk of aspiration as a result of an impaired swallow. We also help clients and loved one adjust to the impact of the disease. We dip in and out of a persons life over the progression of the disease to reduce admissions to hospital / long term care and improve their quality of life.
Siobhan has some advice on how to protect your own emotional wellbeing in such a difficult job.
“We look after each other and are open and approachable with other team members.
“Having clinical psychologists on the team is of course helpful.
“To cope with the demands of the role we encourage the use of mindfulness and regular reflective practice.”
Siobhan’s greatest challenge was ensuring the continuation of the Community Neuro Team at a time of stretched NHS resources.
“Clients depend on us and I was so proud to be a part of ensuring the continuation of the service.
“We used feedback from clients and our staff to raise awareness of the service in every possible way to ensure it was continued.”
What motivates Siobhan is having an inspiring team to work with. “It is more than a job to all that work in the team.” She said: “Creating even the smallest change can have a massive impact on a patient’s quality of life.
“We receive positive feedback from patients and their families”.
“We are often seeing people in the worst time of their lives, how they act can be challenging. We are trained to de-escalate difficult situations and help people to move forward.
“We believe in equality in the workplace, mutual respect and an understanding of the pressures that people are up against.”