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Andrew Lowden
Andrew Lowden

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Hospice Care Week: Working as a physiotherapist for a hospice…

I work as a physiotherapist at ellenor hospice, supporting patients within the local community with life-limiting conditions and enabling them to live life as fully as possible. Whilst most people know about the role of a physio as someone who gives a lot of exercises to their patients, there is also a side to us that many people are unaware of. This includes helping people to manage their breathlessness, working to control their fatigue and energy levels, and in this instance helping a young man to discover just how independent he can be.

Cameron Edmonds is a 19-year-old guy with a condition called Duchenne’s Muscular Dystrophy, a genetic disorder in which his muscles gradually get weaker. He has been known to ellenor for 9 years, under the care of our Children’s Team, but in March this year he transitioned to adulthood. Suddenly, the faces he was seeing were new, the doctors looking after him were varied and numerous, and the respite care he and his family had been receiving was no longer available. His world changed dramatically. Except for ellenor. We were the constant for him, the centre point of his care, and as a physio I saw the potential he has and couldn’t wait to work with him.

Now, you’d think that with everything Cam is up against, I might take it a little easy on him …Right? Wrong, of course not. I’m a physio, and it’s my job to make sure that Cam is working to his maximum capacity and I am showing him just what he is capable of. The challenge for me is that Cam is a teenager, and I am a something-year-old, so how do I make sure his therapy is relevant and engaging? First, I tried asking him, but he’s a teenager and getting an answer can be difficult. So I tried just doing things that I thought he might like, and some hit the mark and others he just didn’t enjoy. And then I tried something different. I just tried hanging out with him. No pressure, no expectations, no time constraints. And we had fun. As I got to know Cam, he became more comfortable with me and came out of his shell more and more and he began to tell me what he likes. Computer games. Animals. Dinosaurs. So our sessions began to revolve around those things. In his eyes, we were playing around, for me, we were sneaking in some therapy (whilst playing around). Win-win situation!

6 months later and I am seeing Cam on a regular basis. Every time we meet, he has a big grin on his mischievous face and he can’t wait for mum to leave so we can crack on with whatever adventure is planned for the day. And you know what? I have a smile on my face too because I love my job especially when I get to spend time with amazing people like Cam. He has shown me that no matter what life throws at you, you can rise up and meet those challenges head on. Who knows where the future will take us? But wherever it is, it’ll be full of fun and laughter, and a bit of therapy somewhere along the way.

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