What does a Physiotherapy programme look like in Aged Care?
Prior to contracting a Physiotherapist, or as part of your Physiotherapy service review process, you should consider what your goal is in having physiotherapy input. These should include key values such as Meaningful Outcomes for residents.
We asked Jessie Snowden of On The Go Physio what should felt was important for a Physiotherapy programme to which she offered the following:
For us this means we carry out thorough assessments, find out what is important or meaningful to the resident, their whānau and how this impacts their functioning in the aged care environment. Our input with people can range from rehabilitation to a previous level of function. This may be intensive physio input for a few weeks, to ensuring someone is safe and comfortable with appropriate seating and pressure care at the end of life (which could be one visit only).
This level of assessment means that you need to ‘budget’ for 40-60 minutes (sometimes longer for complicated admissions) of physiotherapy time for a new assessment and possibly longer if they are needing to make referrals, liaise with other services and family. Follow up visits will be shorter. It is recommended that if you have a set number of hours per week that your staff and the physiotherapist are clear on expectations and priorities. If you only contract 2 hours per week it is not fair to have 10 new assessments on your ‘urgent’ list!
Some facilities have a set standard of 6 monthly reviews of all their residents. Although we do undertake these if asked, it is often more meaningful to use physiotherapy skills for those residents who may improve with input, or who your staff need assistance with due to functional decline. We suggest if a 6 monthly review is wanted, then the RN is able to carry this out by considering if there have been changes in mobility, falls rates or other physical changes affecting function. If not then your physiotherapy dollar could be better spent on residents with clear rehabilitation needs or declining function. The key goal here being to optimise mobility and maintain as much independence as possible.
Once the Physiotherapy service is up and running you can expect your physiotherapist to provide a clearly written assessment and a clear treatment plan, including either a discharge comment or a review date. Ideally you will maintain data related to Physiotherapy input and be able to see clearly if your allocated time is meeting the needs of your staff and residents.
Finally consider which residents will be eligible for physiotherapy assessments. If you are funding a Physiotherapy service you may choose to extend this to your hospital level and rest home level of care residents but not to independent studio units/apartments as these residents will usually be eligible for DHB funded services. Some DHBs will happily provide physiotherapy to rest home level of care residents and some put guidelines around who they will see. Depending on your DHB and care philosophy you may choose only to fund Physiotherapy services to hospital level of care residents or to extend this to rest home. In our company we work with aged care facilities who operate under both of these models and the key is to have it clear to both your Physiotherapist and staff who are completing referrals.
Spend your dollar wisely!
A final note here. Physiotherapists are highly skilled healthcare professionals who will be an asset to your team. The days of Physiotherapists spending all their time on walking programmes are long gone and you should set your expectations high for a physiotherapist who will add quality of life to your residents and cost benefit to your organisation. To use your physiotherapist wisely I strongly recommend you have the expectation that your care staff will have time to walk with people who are safe to do so. We also encourage you to employ or allocate a Physiotherapy assistant hours into your roster to implement Physiotherapy plans. For information on using Physiotherapy assistants please look at an earlier article here .
This article was kindly contributed by Jessie Snowdon – Director of On the Go Physio. On the Go Physio provide physiotherapy services to over 20 facilities in Christchurch and Moving and Handling training to many more facilities and the CDHB.