• Jo Houlbrook

Rainbows, Iris and why rehab works. #righttorehab

We’ve seen a lot in the news lately about rainbows. Did you know that the Greek word for rainbow is Iris? I have had the pleasure to treat a lady called Iris since March 2019 after she had an fall and broke her hip. She is an absolute star and I have really missed her humour over the weeks that we have been in lock down but for me she really is a symbol of hope and all that rehab can achieve. Iris has dementia and can’t remember exercises or instructions and when I first saw her she was frightened of falling again and frightened of the pain that she was getting in her broken hip, although it had been fixed. Iris is not the type of patient who would normally be considered as a candidate for long term rehab, especially as she lives in Prospect House Nursing and residential care home, where she can and was on occasions being hoisted.


After being discharged back to the care home she was very anxious and at times getting frustrated with the staff, she was a certainly a “double”, this means that two carers or therapists would be needed to help her out of bed or into a chair. At times she needed the use of a hoist to achieve this. I was asked by the family to treat her and at the same time she was also referred to Gill Mauger who is a local community NHS physio. Now a lot of time private and NHS services don’t work along side each other, but Gill and I both felt that we were working towards the same goals and it just meant that Iris got more rehab. Win, win!


Gill and I kept in regular contact regarding Iris and her progress and it meant that slowly we got her stepping round with a frame to a wheel chair and then taking a few steps. We were also both able to work closely with the Staff at Prospect House, this is especially important for me as I work on my own and at time I needed a second person in order to keep Iris and myself safe. The other thing is us physio’s breeze in for half and hour maybe an hour, the rest of the time it’s down to the carers and nurses to carry on the good work and I know that at Prospect House this happens.


Prior to the fall Iris was able to mobilise around the home with her 4 wheeled walker, this was our goal. Gradually over time, first following with a wheel chair and then without we have worked to increase the distance that she can walk. Now Iris can get about with a bit of guidance, she forgets the way to her room, but is walking about 300m in one go which is a fabulous achievement.


I was able to get Iris home for Christmas, this involved car transfers and a step, which was no problem at all as her confidence has improved so much with regular walking. It’s the little things like this that mean the world to me as a therapist but also mean Iris and her family have a chance to make special memories together.


So please don’t let dementia be a barrier to rehab, consistently seeing someone and going through the same things will stick and you will see improvements. Please let the NHS and private practitioners work alongside one another, we all have the same goals in mind.


I know that without the staff at Prospect House and the input of Gill and her colleagues we might not have had the same Iris that I see motoring round on her walker, with a level of independence that at the start I wasn’t sure was going to be possible.

She really is the embodiment of the symbol of hope that the rainbow has come to represent and I can’t wait to see her sunny face again when the restrictions are lifted.

Lower House Farm, 

Clotton, 

Tarporley, 

Cheshire, 

CW6 OEG

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