A day in the life: Community Physiotherapist

Dee Matthews, Community Physiotherapist, Outpatient Physiotherapy Service, Sutton Community Health Services (SCHS)

The service we run operates at St Helier Hospital, the Nelson Health Centre and Jubilee Health Centre. As a team leader at St Helier, I manage the day-to-day clinics and support seven other physiotherapists. Each day, our team sees up to 15 adult patients with a variety of musculoskeletal problems, such as ankle or wrist fractures and sprains, lower back or neck pain, and Achilles tendonitis. Patients who have undergone orthopaedic surgery or intervention, such as joint replacement or spinal surgery, are also referred to the service for rehabilitation.

Physiotherapy can help with mobility and get people back into work, as well as helping them do the things they enjoy, such as sports and leisure activities. We set functional goals with our patients, so we strive for the same result and can motivate them along the way.

The Outpatient Physiotherapy Service offers strengthening classes, a spinal rehabilitation programme and pain education sessions, which provide patients with advice on why they get pain, why it persists and what strategies can help manage and reduce it. We aim to improve an individual’s understanding of their situation so they can self-manage their pain. Some patients have lived for a long time with chronic pain that has limited them, but we give them advice on how to modify their lifestyle to improve their health and wellbeing, and so improve their quality of life. Other services we offer include acupuncture, manual therapy, electrotherapy, taping, strapping, and exercise rehabilitation.

There are also specific rehabilitation classes for post-operative patients who have had surgery such as anterior cruciate ligament reconstruction. A lot of the rehabilitation takes place in the on-site physiotherapy gym, and aims to strengthen and condition muscles and improve function. We also provide patients with home exercise programmes to continue their rehabilitation and give them the best chance of recovery.

Patients often open up to us about what they are going through. Our team is very good at recognising when a patient may need extra support, such as referring them for hydrotherapy or podiatry, or directing them to psychological therapy services.

We aim to improve an individual’s understanding of their situation so they can self-manage their pain

Dee Matthews, Community Physiotherapist