Background In 2020 Highland Hospice faced the challenge of continuing the rehabilitation service delivered by our inpatient physiotherapist and occupational therapist. The service was originally delivered by admission to the unit for a five-day (Respiratory) or 10-day (Neurological) stay with intensive multi-disciplinary team rehabilitation. The team adapted the delivery of this service due to COVID-19 restrictions using the Zoom platform (licensed version).
Aim To continue to provide ongoing rehabilitation for palliative care patients during COVID-19.
Methods Referrals were received as usual from respiratory/neuro nurses or consultant. Screening was carried out in a weekly meeting with the allied health professionals and doctors. Appropriate patients were contacted by telephone to schedule an initial assessment before setting up a Zoom call or home visit to set up technology. Patients were seen in person (if hearing or technology was an issue), or virtually for 6-12 weeks.
Results Of the eleven patients to date there were challenges for some but all participated and benefited. A survey was sent to participants. Three people responded. All three respondents said their goals were clear after the first session.
The respondents either mostly agreed/or agreed that their symptoms were better controlled.
Activity levels had increased.
Ability to cope was better.
Knowledge of helpful techniques was better and,
Quality of life was better after attending the service for the 6-12 week period.
Feedback from participants includes: ‘The service was friendly and positive’; ‘It helped me immensely’; ‘a friend had been in respiratory crisis and I was able to help her while she waited for the ambulance - that felt good’.
Conclusion Despite challenges, a virtual approach for palliative rehabilitation provided beneficial outcomes for patients who would not have been able to attend in person. This method will likely form a part of our services going forward.
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