Physiotherapists offer a vital and dynamic approach to Rehabilitative Palliative Care. Not only can physiotherapists deliver high quality physical assessments and treatments tailored to an individual’s need, but these can be utilised across a range of advanced diagnoses and uncontrolled symptoms. Their proactive approach, with attention to quality of life and risk management in dual measure, allows them to work in partnership with patients to plan for future challenges and prevent avoidable crises.
Everything physiotherapists do has an emphasis on enablement, which empowers patients to achieve their personal goals. In doing so, it endorses a self-management model and by focusing on the patient’s own priorities it minimises unintentional disempowerment which is sometimes seen in the evolving model of hospice care. The utilisation of physiotherapists as extended scope practitioners in a hospice setting presents an innovative and cost-effective avenue for symptom management in an area of service provision historically lead by doctors and consultants, which warrants active consideration for the future.
Physiotherapists’ pragmatic and solution-focused leadership skills place them in a prime position to lead on service and professional development, and they have an essential role to play in educating and supporting the multidisciplinary team in delivering a Rehabilitative Palliative Care approach. An enabling approach is often embraced by palliative patients, it promotes a service with an emphasis on living well and being as independent as possible for as long as possible. This in turn will decrease carer burden, allow patients to stay home longer and reduce the demand on hospice resources, which is necessary if we are to be sustainable in the future. In order for Rehabilitative Palliative Care to be truly successful, it needs to be a united holistic multidisciplinary approach which is upheld organisationally in order to allow patients to benefit from the full potential that it has to offer.