Janet Schmitt is Director of Care and Therapy at QEF and has over twenty years’ experience of neuro rehabilitation and is passionate about helping each person to be themselves again after a stroke, brain injury or neurological illness.
Every person is different and it’s this individuality that needs to be at the heart of neuro rehabilitation.
It is important to frame therapy in the context of how it will help to achieve someone’s goals, not clinical targets. If a person’s strongest desire is to be able to play with their children on the floor, then demonstrating how therapy can work towards achieving this will tap into their motivation to develop their abilities. Building on personal motivations and being as inventive as possible enables people to increasingly be themselves.
"Good neuro rehabilitation isn’t done to someone, it’s achieved by the person themselves".
Being unrealistic is OK
It can be easy for clinicians or families to fall into the trap of thinking someone is being unrealistic with their dreams.
But, our hopes and dreams are what get us going and motivate us to achieve something different. Naturally this varies for each person and we have a limited time frame and funding restrictions to work within, so we need to hone therapy into what will have the most impact for that person in their life.
Person centred care involves everyone
Every decision, internal process and expectations of every employee needs to revolve around what helps an individual get back to being themselves. We all find different people we click with, so chefs, care assistants, porters, housekeepers (as well as therapists) are all equally important to finding out what someone’s interests are and what makes them laugh.
Look beyond our walls
A poor environment can limit a person’s aspirations. If something can only be achieved in one place, what happens when that person is ready to move on?
We must look beyond our walls and create an environment where people can safely push the boundaries of their abilities, in a way that’s also relevant to each person’s real world.
"Helping each person to be themselves again after a stroke, brain injury or neurological illness".
Assistive technology offers greater dignity
Readily available and emerging technology can offer greater control over personal space. If a person decides they are ready for bed, for example, using a pre-programmed voice command to close their blinds, turn off the TV and switch off the lights, stops them having to wait for help.
These might appear to be small actions but being able to control them yourself creates dignity and builds a sense of self determination.
The team at QEF have worked hard to develop a bespoke, state-of-the-art centre that puts person centred care at the heart of our neuro rehabilitation and specialist care service.
This has led to the creation of adaptable therapy areas that can be tailored to each person’s needs and an emphasis on social and personal space, both inside and outside. There will also be readily available, voice or switch activated technology in every bedroom, so each person has a greater sense of personal control, which they can continue to use beyond our service.
Often families feel that QEF has given them back their dad/mum/husband/daughter – there can be no real greater feedback for a rehabilitation service than that!
This article was originally developed as part of the Heath Awareness 'Rehabilitation' campaign, which launched in The Guardian in September 2019. You can read the original here