In palliative physiotherapy, the focus is on a positive outlook with realistic goals which centre round maintaining independence and enhancing quality of life.
The physiotherapist’s main tasks are to:
- Assess physical capabilities and devise personalised exercise programmes
- Help patients to understand their limitations and make the best of them
- Help patients to function with the greatest possible independence in the face of diminishing resources
- Advise the family and other team members regarding positioning, transfers and devices which assist patient comfort and safety.
In order to do this the following treatment methods are used:
- A personal exercise/stretching programme
- Fatigue management/coping strategies
- Advice on positioning and pressure relief
- Pain relief by using TENS (electrical modality for treating pain)
- Passive movements to maintain joint range and relieve discomfort
The hospice physiotherapist works closely with the other members of the multi-professional team in the total care of our patients.
The therapist’s work revolves around three main areas:
- In the home environment.
- At the day therapy unit
- At the hydrotherapy pool
In the Home
Home visits to patients who are unable to come to hospice are carried out. After careful assessment of the patient’s needs and after discussing options with them, a personalised exercise/stretching programme is suggested. This programme is designed where possible to increase mobility, help to strengthen weak muscles, ease stiffness and generally enhance quality of life. When appropriate, specialised equipment which helps to maintain, as much as possible, functional independence, is applied for to the Hospice. The easiest and safest ways to achieve everyday tasks within their home is also recommended.
At the Day Therapy Unit
Physiotherapy is an important part of day care and the exercises and group therapy sessions help to facilitate mobility and in different ways help to enhance the quality of life. Each session usually begins with a very popular group exercise which the patients call, ‘Chair Aerobics’. For most of the patients these exercises are good fun and a great tonic. Individual sessions are also carried out with patients who have different or greater needs. The physiotherapist takes due care and attention to try to find the most appropriate way for them to maintain muscle strength and mobility, or to cope better with breathlessness or fatigue.
Once a week the Hospice makes use of the pool at the ‘Park of Friendship” for hydrotherapy sessions. The buoyancy and the warmth of the water, facilitates treatment and makes it an excellent medium for reducing stiffness, easing muscle ache, strengthening general debilitation and promoting relaxation. Water also helps patients who walk with mobility aids move independently and this gives them confidence. The patients have a lot of fun exercising in water and the added bonus is that one does not have to know how to swim in order to benefit from hydrotherapy.