Happy #AHPsDay from the BGS!

14 October 2019

Esther Clift is a Consultant Practitioner Trainee in Frailty with Health Education Wessex and a member of the BGS Nurses and AHPs Council. She tweets @EstherClift

The first-ever Allied Health Professionals (AHP) Day was held in October 2018 as a way of celebrating all the fabulous contributions to improving people’s lives made by AHPs.  The day was a national opportunity to launch the AHPs into action document, which is available here.

This is an evidence-based summary of where we are, and an inspirational challenge to what we can contribute in the future. Worth reading!

This year the day aims to…

  • Improve awareness of the roles of the fourteen allied health professions
  • Demonstrate the achievements of local services, and their impact on patient care and population health
  • Support integrated working with other services and organisations
  • Raise awareness that AHPs are now the second-largest healthcare workforce with significant opportunities to support the delivery of the NHS Long Term Plan

There are resources and updates from across the land here- so find out what your local teams are doing today and you can follow on twitter via #AHPsDay

So what does being an AHP mean to me as a physiotherapist and consultant in frailty?

I have had an amazing career to date! I trained in London, having known from the age of 12 that I wanted to be a physiotherapist. I was inspired by a friend of my Mum’s who worked with children with disabilities and took me in with her for a couple of days. I don’t think you’d get the safeguarding clearance these days!

I specialised in paediatrics, and then returned to East Africa where I was born, and worked with children with cerebral palsy, often arising from malaria. We set up a school and worked to destigmatise disability in a small city community.

When I returned to the UK - I went to work on our local PICU but was only able to secure full-time work which was incompatible with my growing family. I took up a post in a nurse-led unit to support rehabilitation for older people and loved the holistic medicine we were able to practice. I was offered the opportunity to undertake an MSc in Gerontology at the University of Southampton and returned to Kenya for my dissertation to look at the experience of ageing in the informal settlements of Nairobi.

I was by then working in the Emergency Department at our local tertiary referral centre spearheading front door frailty services before we were even defining frailty! While, it was a brilliant model- and continues to be - I had a sense that I wanted to be supporting people to stay at home, and assess them there, rather than getting them to flow faster through the ED. I was given the opportunity to undertake the consultant training scheme by HEE (Wessex) which gave me 3 years of funding to hone my skills as a clinical consultant and become a prescriber. I developed leadership skills (which led to my involvement with the BGS) and extended my research and education reach by undertaking a Doctorate in Clinical Practice.

I’m now working in my dream job, leading a team with 2 other consultants, a nurse and an occupational therapist - delivering urgent assessment and treatment to older people at home in the New Forest, and keeping them at home, or arranging a planned admission for urgent treatments.

As a physiotherapist, I bring a critical evidence base to my practice. This includes skills in setting goals and being able to really get to the bottom of what is most important to each person as part of their Comprehensive Geriatric Assessment and then offering appropriately tailored interventions.  So, I see my core physiotherapy skills as integral to my consulting, but with add-ons!

 I am also a commissioned Anna Chaplain offering spiritual care in later life.

If you want to hear more about our team, come to the BGS Autumn Meeting in Leicester - we are speaking at 2.30 on Wednesday!

And if you are an AHP working with older people, join the BGS and take advantage of the networking and educational opportunities the Society offers.



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