Twenty years at Willow Wood has just flown by, I still remember coming for my interview in March 1999; I thought I’d got the wrong address when I drove into the Close, but I soon found the oasis that is Willow Wood at the top of the road.
It was so exciting to join the then very small team in June 1999, to be in at the beginning, and to shape how we delivered our services to the people of Tameside and Glossop. We are very privileged to have our own hydrotherapy pool, quite a unique service in hospice care back then. Once all the policies and safety aspects were complete, we had our first outpatients in the pool which offers a really pleasant medium to aid rehabilitation, whether it be after surgery, chemotherapy or radiotherapy.
It can also be a stepping stone to returning to normal activity when treatment is complete. Our neurological patients also enjoy hydrotherapy as it can help them retain some movement and function which is difficult on dry land. Seeing someone’s confidence grow, their self-esteem increase, and accepting their “new normal” is so rewarding.
Day Hospice gradually opened over three days a week, and then in September of that year we welcomed our first inpatients. My job felt very complete working across the whole hospice.People often ask ‘why do you need a physiotherapist in a hospice?’and our aim here is quality of life, support and care at all stages of illness. We may be looking at an alternative way of doing something and providing the necessary equipment in a timely manner.We could be aiming to get someone to an important family event, such as a wedding or a holiday – being able to think outside box and make it happen is so important.
We also share the ups and downs with our patients and their families.I’ve met some amazing people in my 20 years here, and have learned such a lot from them.
In 2006, Staff Nurse Mandy Jones and I went back to university to do our Lymphoedema key worker course, opening our clinic in 2007 which we run jointly with Tameside & Glossop NHS Trust. The physiotherapy role has evolved for me in treating patients with scar issues, mobility, breathlessness and neurological patients.
No two days are the same – that’s why I still enjoy the challenge and it is made so much easier when you work in such a supportive, progressive team.