Tuesday 29th September 2015
Mac Voice, the magazine for Macmillan professionals: Autumn 2015
The roles of two generic therapy support workers in a tertiary cancer centre
Traditionally, physiotherapy and occupational therapy departments have employed separate assistant practitioners to provide support and assistance to qualified staff.
At the Velindre Cancer Centre in Cardiff, our roles as Macmillan generic therapy support technician (band four) and generic support worker (band three) ensure an efficient and effective skill mix across both physiotherapy and occupational therapy. This provides a consistent and collaborative service for both disciplines.
Joining up care
We are mainly ward-based, but we also carry out access and home visits to facilitate discharges, and follow-up visits once patients have gone home. Our roles also extend into outpatient care, as we can identify patients with occupational therapy or physiotherapy needs, and advise them and their carers on services available in their area.
We represent both physiotherapy and occupational therapy in ward multidisciplinary team meetings and provide feedback to support assessments and interventions.
In this aspect of our roles, we gather relevant clinical information and screen and perform some basic assessments of patients’ function. This enables us to pass on information to physiotherapy and occupational therapy colleagues, providing a crossover for both disciplines. This can then reduce the number of times patients are asked the same questions.
There are many common aims of treatment where the delegated interventions undertaken comprehensively cover the practical and physical aspects of care within both disciplines.
Benefits for people with cancer
Our role provides support to patients and relatives on all aspects of the cancer journey. The use of our advanced communication skills can benefit people who may have complex emotional, physical and psychological needs.
Our role has a number of benefits to patient care:
- There is a reduced delay in screening the physical and practical needs of inpatients, enabling them to achieve their maximum potential and a safe discharge.
- We provide increased support for physiotherapists treating patients who require a ‘double handed’ intervention. This greatly increases the effectiveness of rehabilitation, and ensures people with complex needs are not bedbound with delays to their discharge and reduced quality of life.
- As we see a greater number of patients due to the crossover between both disciplines, we are able to identify and report changes in patients’ condition to qualified staff.
- Under guidance and delegation of supervising physiotherapy and outpatients staff, we advise patients on exercise, mobility and function. We also teach safe and appropriate use of mobility aids and equipment.
- We collaborate with other departments in offering inpatient and outpatient groups. We carry out and assist with group and individual sessions such as ward groups, fatigue management, relaxation and tai chi sessions.
Forming a bridge between disciplines
We feel our roles are a beneficial asset to the therapies team. The crossover between physiotherapy and occupational therapy enables us to form a bridge between both disciplines. This ultimately enhances and increases effective and efficient patient-centered care.
Lisa Stafford, Macmillan Generic Therapy Support Technician
Deborah Mullan, Generic Therapy Support Worker
Velindre Cancer Centre