LGH occupational therapists use grant to investigate rehabilitation needs

11 Dec 2017

A new research project beginning next year aims to improve the efficiency of getting patients into rehabilitation beds post-operation.

The research is being conducted by Launceston General Hospital’s occupational therapy team, with a 2018 grant from the Clifford Craig Foundation.

It will look at how to predict whether patients will need an in-hospital rehabilitation bed following knee or hip replacements.

LGH senior occupational therapist Mimi Churchill is the chief investigator and will lead the research project next year.

“It’s looking at how can we predict who’s going to need rehab after their surgery and we’re trying to predict that before they get here,” she said.

“About 20 percent of patients currently require rehab beds after surgery, so ideally, in future we’d love to pre-book rehab beds for those patients so there’s no hold up of them getting from the acute ward to the rehab ward.

“So it’s around reducing length of stay, it’s around increasing patients’ awareness, it’s around increasing the healthcare service awareness of what these patients’ needs are.”

At the moment, hospitals are facing a number of challenges, Ms Churchill said.

They include the length of time it takes to be reviewed by an orthopaedic surgeon, limited preoperative planning for patients, the length of time on the waiting list, and the average length of stay in hospital. The research will be conducted using the hospital’s standard practice.

“Over recent years, we’ve become involved again with our preoperative assessment clinic, and we have half-an-hour with a patient, which gives us a bit of time to provide lots of education to them, but also to complete some assessments, which give us indicators for red flags for the need for rehab after surgery.

“We’re starting in 2018, but the nice thing is, it’s basically following clinical care – our practice as it is, which means we see the patient in the preoperative assessment clinic, gather our information there and then we see the patient again on the ward and watch what happens and where they go.”

Ms Churchill said the research had grown from a group of people putting in “a lot of effort”. “I’m the chief investigator, but it’s been a lot of hard work from different individuals.”


Carly Dolan – The Examiner, Launceston