Click & Book Online Now

Call us now: 023 8025 3317

The Value of Contact: why we still love face to face!

Posted on 8th September 2020 by

Over the last 6 months, healthcare has experienced a HUGE shift. As a result of the global pandemic we are all still living with, face to face health care experienced an absolute drastic decline. For obvious reasons. The NHS has had to prioritise managing Coronavirus care, health issues that were not deemed urgent became a very low priority and potential risk of transmission meant that many healthcare interactions shifted from face to face (in person) to virtual (aka online, video, phone consultations etc.). 

This shift, in the earlier stages of the pandemic was absolutely necessary. As a local healthcare provider, we quickly set up an online service in order to continue to help people with their pain, injuries and recovery, with ‘virtual physiotherapy’ and a video Pilates service. There is no doubt this was needed and we helped many people.

Longer term, there is definitely scope for online and virtual healthcare services to continue. There are many opportunities and indisputable benefits of virtual healthcare:

  • It can be cost effective, particularly for the NHS and larger organisations. Delivering services online is potentially much more cost effective, and the COVID situation has enabled this huge shift (that was already in the pipeline) to happen quicker. It can also be a more affordable way for patients to access healthcare.
  • Access to specialist care is no longer geographically dependent. You don’t have to live in the same city or county as that specialist who may be best place to help you, access is now available more easily to anyone in the world.
  • It can be more time efficient, not only for the Clinical team, but also for those accessing the service. You aren’t taking out the time needed for travel, parking, time off work etc. and can get the support you need from the comfort of your home.
  • You may feel more relaxed and confident being in your own surroundings. Particularly when going out and about carries some risks, remaining in your own surroundings to access care can be preferable.

However, for all it’s potential benefits, there are so many reasons why it is so important for face to face care to continue.

Here’s a few of our thoughts on the huge value of face to face care.

  1. Personal connection – yes, you can connect online or on the phone, but let’s be honest, it really is second best. It’s wonderful if there’s no alternative and for some there isn’t – in the face of Coronavirus, if the risk of contracting the virus outweighs the need for face to face healthcare, access to virtual healthcare is essential and has huge benefits. But you really can’t beat having that personal, face to face connection with someone.
  2. All the non-verbal cues are crucial. How people stand, talk, move, sit, breath……..these cues are all such important aspects of an assessment and getting to the bottom of someones problem. Yes you can get some sense of these elements on video, but so much can be missed.
  3. Online fatigue – Anyone who’s been involved in endless Zoom meetings, Microsoft Teams lessons, online quizzes and live Facebook streams, will inevitably be feeling the fatigue of thee online platforms setting in. Yes, technology is wonderful. Yes, it’s presented unimaginable opportunities, enrichment, information and connections, but the fatigue does set in and it’s so important that our lives don’t become focused purely around a screen and technology.
  4. Technology woes – Technology is great, but reliant on so many factors that don’t make it an equal experience for all. Your device (camera, sound, screen size for example) own understanding and technological ability, internet connection, physical space and lighting will all impact on how positive your experience is. For some it just ins’t accessible, whether that be access to the actual equipment or skills needed to make it work effectively.
  5. Privacy can be a serious consideration. You may not have the time or space at home or in the office to carry out a confidential appointment and have an open and honest discussion like you would in a private, clinical space.
  6. A more accurate diagnosis can be made in person, when you can actually feel, touch, move and interact fully with someone. It is a much more effective way of really getting to know someone, their aims, goals and story and what you need to do to help them.
  7. Engagement and interaction is much more effective – using skilled ‘hands’ to guide and support someone, whether that be in actual ‘hands on’ treatments or to assist and guide exercises, stretches, positions of rest or to ease pain, just can’t be replicated virtually in the same way. Engagement is crucial to get positive outcomes.
  8. Benefits from virtual support can plateau quickly – any support is generally limited to advice and exercise, which works well for many people but not everyone! Some people need more than this.

If you wanted to catch up with a friend, what would your preference be? Meeting up for a coffee in person or a phone call? Yes, a chat on the phone or a FaceTime can be great and meets a need, but if you had a choice, what would you rather? Just think about what additional joy you get from actually meeting your friend face to face!

Since we re-opened for face to face care, we have heard so many really sad and worrying stories. Stories of people being isolated for months, without any contact – coming to see us in a very safe, clean and relatively protected environment has been a lifeline, not only for their physical health but also psychologically. Their appointments have been their only physical contact.

We’ve seen people who didn’t know they could or had no way of accessing online or virtual support, so suffered for months unnecessarily. Sadly, we’ve also seen people who were misdiagnosed or have had serious illnesses missed

In the 20+ years since we’ve been working in the healthcare sector, we’ve never experienced such a change and shift and the physio profession is at risk of starting to become a little divided and fragmented in it’s approach. Face to face care doesn’t now look or feel quite the same (PPE, social distancing where possible and stripped back surroundings) – but our team are the same, our level of commitment and care is the same and our goal remains to help you, so even behind the mask, that’s what we’re doing.  

We are always open to embracing progress and change and virtual and remote services are a very valuable way of helping people, but what is becoming very clear is that there is a clear need for more training and guidance in this area to ensure it is an effective way to delver what’s needed.

Value of face to face

Virtual or Face to Face?

Posted on 3rd June 2020 by

It’s early days, and we’ve only just re-opened our doors for face to face appointments. We have followed all of our professional and Government guidance to both help us decide when to re-open and to create an environment that’s as safe as possible.

The guidance that we are working with is just that, guidance – so it’s open to individual interpretation, based on risks and needs. To see someone face to face, we have to rationalise that this is justified.

One question that we’ve asked ourselves, we get asked and that we’ve taken guidance on, is, what can we justify seeing face to face? Is what we offer essential?

On the surface, MSK physio isn’t essential, it doesn’t directly save lives. However, 10 weeks of lockdown, home working, stress, home schooling, workout videos, less activity (or more activity than used to) is certainly taking it’s toll on many people.

The great news is, that there is so much we can do through a virtual online appointment. You’d be surprised! We’ve had great feedback from our online consultations and this will continue to be our first line of approach. You can read more about virtual consultations here.

However, there are instances where a face to face appointment is justified. Factors we consider may include:

  • The severity of the condition and symptoms. Some people are in absolute agony, meaning they are distressed, worried and can’t go about their day.
  • Longstanding conditions that rely on help and support from physio’s, that are experiencing physical (and psychological) deterioration without that support.
  • Individual urgency and priority. This is subjective, but if your livelihood or dependents rely on you being able to move and function physically, getting help may be an urgent priority.
  • Effects on level of function and independence.
  • Potential or actual deterioration and increasing disability
  • Social, emotional and economic factors that are of high priority or urgency to the patient e.g. return to work, family commitments.

So many people rely on exercise to help them not only physically but also mentally. If an injury is stopping people from being active or getting out to exercise, this can have an increasingly big impact on:

  • Mental health (low mood, stress and anxiety)
  • General mobility, fitness and health
  • Maintaining or reducing weight
  • Managing long standing health conditions
  • Preventing certain health conditions
  • Relationships and self care
  • Confidence 
  • Independence (to care for ourselves, dependent and our home)

Coupled with the fact that NHS MSK Physiotherapy care has reduced dramatically (or even completely stopped in some areas), people are reluctant to seek help from their GP and scheduled orthopaedic surgeries and tests such as scans have been postponed, there really is a huge gap in care to be filled.

On top of all this, we have people who need rehabilitation after having coronavirus or have been discharged from NHS care with little or no follow up.

We fully appreciate and understand that many people will not feel ready or indeed need to come and see us at the clinic yet. We just want to reassure you that, if you have a need that is justified, we will guide you through the most appropriate pathway of care.

If you have any questions or would like to know more, please don’t hesitate in getting in touch.