Carolina Read is a Wellbeing Project Physiotherapist at Hospiscare in Devon. Her role is part of the Healthy Aging Project bid, and her approach focuses on keeping patients well for longer.
Caroline joined the hospice in June 2019, and her role includes everything from supporting patients with muscle weakness caused by nerve damage to providing internal training to other members of staff, and increasing opportunities for exercise at the hospice.
As a trained physiotherapist, she explains that it is her role to “assess risks and find out what is possible”. An equally vital part of her role is patient wellbeing.
“It’s all about inspiring patients by finding different ways of working with them” Caroline says. “I want patients to try different physical activities so that they feel valued. It’s not about telling patients what they can or can’t do, it’s about giving them the chance to be the initiator and lead on what they want.”
Based at Searle House in Exeter, Carolina carries out individual tailored assessments for patients in order to find out what is making them feel more restricted than they need to be. If someone has had a fall at home, or is fearful of falling, then this can be talked about to address preventative strategies and any cautions to mobilising. Carolina is then able to put together a plan, not only for staff to work with the patient in the hospice, but also for the patient to carry out at home with the support of their carer or family.
“It’s amazing how well people can feel when they are able to move around” she explains. “Simple activities like throwing and catching a ball when seated can bring out their inner child.”
“Many cancer patients receive treatment that inhibits their physical activity so it’s all about finding ways to bring exercise and movement back into their lives. In the day hospice setting, I can support patients to try out hand-held and leg weights, for example, or try an exercise bike. Patients often go home beaming with achievement!”
To promote physical activity with the patients, Carolina assesses the equipment that is available to them, for example walking aids. She recalls assessing the mobility of a patient who had a walking frame that was too small for him. Carolina removed the frame and took the patient by the hand and walked with him for nearly a mile. The frame was a hindrance to his ability to be active. Carolina found the right-size stable frame for his family to use with him and the family were very grateful. The patient had suffered from bad back pain but with the new frame, this was no longer a problem for him. This symptom was caused by the too-small frame, rather than by his condition.
“When you change something in a walking aid, the effect is profound, like finding the right size shoe after years of wearing the wrong size” she explains.
Although Carolina works with terminally ill patients, her focus is on rehabilitation. With wellbeing at the forefront of her role, Carolina endeavours to find out what is making life more enjoyable for the patients, and promoting this by finding ways of making these things possible.
“It is so important that patients feel listened to. Curiosity is very important when communicating with patients; saying ‘I’m curious…’ or ‘I wonder…’ opens up so many conversations. We all need to be curious.”
For more information visit Hospiscare