When it comes to maintaining functional ability for residents whether in a retirement village setting or in an aged residential care facility, the input for a skilled Physiotherapist is a huge advantage in setting up strengths and balance or falls prevention programmes.
Getting in the support of that type of expertise is certainly going to help residents maximise their potential. Not all professionals are created equal and physiotherapists are no different to other professionals! How do you go about choosing a Physiotherapist though and what should you check for when selecting the right person to support physical therapy for your residents.
I asked local well know registered Physiotherapist Jessie Snowdon what she thought on this topic. Here’s what she recommends:
How to choose a physiotherapist for your aged care facility.
Physiotherapists are a key member of the healthcare team in aged care facilities. Having physiotherapy input can improve quality of life for your residents, improve safety and lessen workloads of your care staff. Many physiotherapists are also able to offer moving and handling training onsite as part of their service. Physiotherapists who are passionate about aged care are usually very special people – so how can you pick them?
This article is written with contracted physiotherapy services in mind but many aspects will apply to employing a physiotherapist directly.
Ask about their experience
In order to meet the varied needs of residents in aged care, physiotherapists need to have a broad clinical background. I would suggest that your physiotherapist should have experience in most of the following clinical areas. Because this is a long list you should be seeking a physiotherapist with a minimum of 5 years’ experience – or actively supervised by a more senior colleague.
- Dementia (even if not working in a specific dementia facility)
- Cardiac respiratory
- Moving and handling
- Basic seating and wheelchair assessment
- Falls prevention
- Chronic Pain
- Pressure injury prevention
Ask about their professional development
To maintain registration in New Zealand, a physiotherapist must adhere to The Physiotherapy Board Code of Standards which is available to the general public here. They must also have a minimum of 100 hours CPD per 3 years, show evidence of reflective practice and have one professional peer review per 3 years. At On the Go Physio we require a peer review each year and active ongoing engagement with colleagues and professional development.
It is not uncommon for aged care facilities to directly contract a physiotherapist working as a sole trader. This can be an isolating role for a physiotherapist and it is important they regularly engage in professional development and in supervision and peer review. If you are employing, rather than contracting, a physiotherapist you will need to budget for this as it is reasonable that you meet these costs.
Eight quick questions when choosing a physiotherapist contractor
As well as the right experience and compliance with physiotherapy regulations, contractor physiotherapists are also businesses in their own right (whether a sole trader or employee of a company) and need to operate as such. These are some legal requirements and compliance issues you should consider.
- Ask to see and maintain a copy of their Annual Practicing Certificate (APC – a new one will be issued annually and you should have a copy of this prior to 1st April of each year).
- Ask for a copy of their professional indemnity and public liability insurance certificates.
- Ask to view their (or their employers) health and safety policy.
- Ask if they undertake regular supervision or mentoring to help assure their own professional safety.
- Ask them to arrange for a colleague to undertake a clinical notes audit within 3 months of starting in the role and annually following this. Ask for a copy. (You may need to negotiate this and if there will be a cost it would not be unreasonable for you to consider paying this).
- How will they cover your facility during periods of leave.
- Are they a member of Physiotherapy New Zealand – this is not compulsory but demonstrates a dedication to their profession and provides development opportunities.
- What moving and handling training experience do they have? Will they be happy to provide training or will you need to contract those services separately.
This article was kindly contributed to 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.
A further article will follow on how to set up a Physiotherapy service in your facility.