John: A day in the life of a prison physiotherapist
5 August 2021
Today we hear from John, a prison physiotherapist at Practice Plus Group:
“A question that is regularly asked is what is it like working as a physiotherapist in a secure prison environment? The answer? It’s not that different from working in an musculoskeletal (MSK) outpatient physiotherapy setting.
“Imagine a GP practice that has been lifted up and slotted into the middle of the prison. I spend my day triaging referrals for physiotherapy, prioritising the waiting lists then seeing patients face to face. I have a team made up of GPs, nurses, podiatrists and administrators surrounding me.
“The main difference between physiotherapy in the community and physiotherapy in a secure environment is that the patients are brought down to the healthcare department by the officers and I have to escort them back to the waiting cell to be returned to the wing by the officers. Equipment is also something else that I don’t have easy access to. Certain parts of the “physiotherapy toolkit” such as TheraBands are not allowed on site. This just means the job challenges you a bit more to work around what exercises to prescribe for patients, but that’s what makes it interesting.
“The caseload is all MSK with the usual presentation; ankle sprains, osteoarthritis, back pain etc. but also some more acute injuries either sustained in the prison or that patients came in with. There is a big emphasis on working closely with the gym staff to allow patients to self-manage their condition and be part of their own rehabilitation and this works really well. There is a higher percentage of chronic pain conditions in a secure environment however it is an exciting place to work alongside GPs and the specialist nurses to try and improve the care that we offer patients to reduce the incidence of chronic pain presentation.
“Practice Plus Group is an innovative company to work for who are passionate at driving forward change in prison healthcare and it is really exciting to be at the forefront of that. Yes there are challenges to the work and the working environment but it is also a very rewarding environment to work in.”