Jenna is our Physiotherapist at Fair Havens Hospice and in the community.
why did you join fair havens?
I worked in the community for Southend Hospital and after having my daughter I returned to work for St Elizabeth’s in Bishop Stortford, a centre which provides education, care and medical support for people of all ages who have epilepsy and other complex needs. I enjoyed it but I was driving 40 miles a day and it became too much and when I saw a job advertised here I jumped at the chance.
what is your background?
I worked for the NHS for six years as a neurological physiotherapist and in the community worked with complex neurodisability and epilepsy. I studied to be a physio at Brighton University and when I qualified in 2005 I started at Southend hospital. Originally I wanted to be a sports physiotherapist but on my rotation placements at university I really enjoyed pediatric and neurology physio. At the hospital I worked on rotation so worked in most departments but I always enjoyed the care side of physio which is why working for the hospice suited me.
what is the average day for you?
My day is variable. If I’m in Day Care then I do group exercises if the patients are well enough and feel up to it, I give them exercises to help with mobility, breathing whatever they need I tailor it to them. In the In Patient Unit I do the same and will help prepare patients for their discharge home and often follow up with them at home and if their mobility improves or decreases I will adapt their exercises accordingly.
why do patients need physiotherapy and what are the benefits?
I work with patients to help them improve their strength and mobility, and also help to maintain their independence. This may include an individualised exercise program, the provision of equipment to aid and improve independence, and can include referral or liaison with the Occupational Therapist.
Physiotherapy can help reduce pain and other symptoms. As well as conventional physiotherapy interventions I also use acupuncture which may help with symptoms including pain, breathlessness, fatigue, nausea, anxiety and insomnia.
I also offer advice and support on comfort and posture for those that may be spending longer periods in bed, or help patients with the management of breathlessness. This includes various breathing exercises, relaxation techniques and coping mechanisms.
what do you enjoy most about the role?
My post was completely new so I’ve really enjoyed setting up the position from scratch and developing the service and there is so much more I want to offer.
what has been your most memorable moment so far?
There hasn’t been one specific moment, I just enjoy having the time to spend with patients. In Day Care I can sit with a patient so they get to know me and build up a level of trust so they feel they can ask me for help, whether it’s something physical or sorting out some equipment they may need. I’m able to support families as well as I have no time constraints, it’s a very personal service.
what has been the biggest challenge so far?
The biggest challenge I can see is that as the service develops more people will need my help and it’s being able to provide the same level of care while keeping a good service as it grows.
what myths do you think there are about hospice care?
I had been to Fair Havens before but I didn’t realise how many people come in for symptom management and respite, I thought it was just end of life care. I didn’t realise some people who come in have been accessing Fair Havens services for years.
what would you say to anyone thinking of joining?
I would highly recommend working at Fair Havens. It gives you a whole different perspective on life and encourages you to make the most of things. It’s not a sad place to work at all. Yes, people die and those days are sad and it can be a somber mood but on the whole it’s not a sad place to work, I love it.