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"The best thing about it is that all the disciplines within the hospital are saying the same things."

Becky Whittaker

What is the role of a physiotherapist?
It’s to teach the patients their exercises, encourage them to be taking responsibility for them themselves, making sure they do them properly and good quality exercises, checking their mobility, making sure they’re walking correctly with whatever aids that might be, and really trying to get them ready to be going home and being independent with a good new knew or hip joint. 

What is important for successful recovery of patients?
Motivating the patients pre-operatively so that they know what to expect; they know what’s going to be coming up on day 1, day 2, day 3, day 4 or so of their stay in hospital, and really trying to educate them on what’s going to be coming up. We tell them exactly what we’re going to do before we do anything, take it really slowly, make sure they’ve had their pain killers before we come to see them and make sure that they are happy for us to do anything that we are going to do.

They should come out feeling really encouraged that they’ve done quite well because we try to be really positive so that they know that they are improving and that they are going to end up with a good knee or hip joint at the end.

What is your role at Joint School?

t’s explaining to the patients what’s going to happen when they are in hospital by seeing them in the Joint School.  We see them in individual appointments, and in those appointments we can try and allay any fears that they have about coming in for their operation.  We can then explain to them what they’ll need to be doing on each particular day of their operation, show them their exercises and try to get them mobilising correctly with the right aids.

If they don’t move their joint, if they don’t have a good strong joint, then they don’t have a good functional joint either, so they can’t do all their normal everyday things.  They won’t know what they can do, and what they can’t do and so they tend to be more nervous if we haven’t told them what they should be doing.

How do patients know what exercises to do?

They’re all written down for them in the booklet that they receive prior coming to joint school and then obviously when we see them on the ward we make sure that they are doing them correctly, good quality exercises and then when they go home they are then able to do them by themselves. 

What can patients do to optimise their recovery?

Really it is taking responsibility for their own joint and taking it on as a brand new joint that they’re going to work really hard at, and get the most that they can out of it.  So it’s doing their exercises, their walking practice regularly, and being positive about it. 

A particular patient really loved coming to Joint School, felt really positive afterwards and wasn’t so anxious about her hospital stay.

Pre-operatively they do their exercises as pain allows so they’re not pushing through their pain of an osteo-arthritic, painful, swollen knee, they’re just doing them really to get familiar with them, to get as much range of movement and strength they can in their joint before they come in.  And that’s the main thing they do pre-operatively really.

What are the benefits of the Rapid Recovery Programme to physiotherapists?

The best thing about it is that all the disciplines within the hospital are saying the same things.  So if your anaesthetist, your pain management nurse, physio, OT, all the nursing staff, are all saying the same thing, are all gearing up for a patient to go home on day three or four, then its more likely to happen, and all the obstacles have been thought about beforehand, rather than waiting until the patient comes in and then realising what they all are.

Nurses obviously are on the ward all the time and so if they are planning on a patient going home on day three and so are we, then everyone is aiming towards that and so the nurses, rather than letting a patient stay in bed, would be more inclined to get them up, so that’s more positive and instead of a patient staying in their night clothes they are fully dressed and ready to go, and so everyone aiming for the same thing has been a really good thing.

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