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Taking the lead on the nation’s rehab

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Ruth Ten Hove

Assistant Director, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy

The provision of effective, community-based rehabilitation services must be a huge priority for UK healthcare providers, and physiotherapy is key to their success.

We’re living and working in a changing world, where people are living longer, but are not necessarily fitter and healthier. In our ageing population, the prevalence of long-term conditions and – in particular – of people living with more than one long-term condition, is contributing to the demand for a change in the way healthcare services are delivered.

Self-management and at-home rehabilitation

More services will need to be delivered closer to people’s homes. This is because there is an increasingly important role for prevention and self-management to empower people to take personal responsibility for their health; furthermore, there is a wider role for digital technology and innovation in shaping the future delivery of healthcare.

The NHS England long-term plan makes a real commitment to improving rehabilitation services. Over the next 10 years, a far greater proportion of NHS resource will be directed to support people with recovery and rehabilitation, and into services that meet people’s needs outside of hospital and in their own homes. In England, £4.5 billion is promised for primary and community health services and there are similar policy commitments in the rest of the UK.

What action is the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy taking?

Within this context, the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy has started working with members of the profession and key stakeholder organisations to ensure that money is spent on better rehab.

We have, and will continue to have, an increasing demand on our rehab services. This is not just about the older population living longer, but also enabling people of working age with long-term conditions to live fulfilling lives. There is an opportunity for us to take stock of what is working well (lots is!) and to influence how rehab services could be delivered for the future. 

What is the ideal rehab situation?

We know what excellent rehab looks like: a full assessment that looks at all your health and care needs. It will support you to establish personalised ambitious goals, which are backed up with an appropriate and funded plan that makes a difference to an individual’s quality of life. And empowering people to take responsibility for their own health and continue their rehab using local amenities (social prescribing).

We also know, from our work on hip fracture, the importance of being able to provide continuity of rehab across the pathway, being of the appropriate intensity and frequency to achieve individualised goals.

It is time to think differently about how we approach rehab. In particular, how we meet the needs of the population who are living with a number of conditions.

These will include:

  • building effective and sustainable hip fracture networks, charged with raising quality across the whole hip fracture pathway;
  • working with others to improve access to pulmonary rehab services;
  • gaining consensus across the profession in the development of community rehab standards;
  • working with NHS England primary care networks to ensure inclusion of community rehab.

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