Over the past four years I have been asked, on numerous occasions, ‘What is it like being an ACPT?’ My patients are always curious, doctor’s and consultants at various functions want to know more, and when interviewing potential candidates for the role itself, the question is always asked. I am sure my answer is slightly different each time, depending on the person and the setting, so my objective in writing this blog is to see if I can give a simple, clear and concise answer!
All ACPTs are chartered physiotherapists, and all healthcare professionals have one objective; to make patients feel better and improve their quality of life. At AposHealth® we see different types of patients with varying symptoms. For example, our youngest patient is actually only five years old, his needs are very different to that of a 38 year old, whom we treated following a severe road accident. The 38 year old’s needs are different from the 75 year old, who has worsening arthritis affecting her normal daily activity. The moment the potential patient steps foot into the clinic their needs are addressed in a caring and compassionate way, we make sure to educate the individual on their condition and advise on an appropriate course of action if they are deemed a suitable candidate for treatment.
Patients come to the clinic in need of help, the extensive assessment process allows the therapist to build rapport with the patient. In most cases the patient feels a significant reduction in their painful symptoms during the initial calibration, the therapists feel this really cements the trust and gives the patient the ‘light at the end of the tunnel’ moment.
Our patients are welcome and encouraged to keep in touch, to ask questions, and to make the most of their therapist’s expertise. Some of our patients have been in treatment for a number of years and I personally take a lot of satisfaction out of working with a patient over a longer period of time, I believe treatment becomes even more effective the more you understand lifestyles and symptom patterns.
As ACPTs we pride ourselves on our clinical expertise. The training that we undertake is extensive, intense and genuine hard work. There are around 100 hours of classroom based background learning, at the end of which we have to pass a theoretical exam – this is followed by four weeks of clinic supervision before the final practical exam. Crucially there is a lot of emphasis on computerised and visual gait analysis, both real art-forms in themselves and such a valuable tool for any physiotherapist. This skill alone can take time to develop and the whole process sounds daunting at first, but the learning department is great fun and so supportive.
Our most recent trainee remarked that ‘I have learnt more in the past six weeks than I did in six months in my last job’. There is a strong emphasis on support and learning throughout the company and we all feel it is so important. We are encouraged to work together, to seek other opinions, to provide feedback on each other’s assessments, reflect upon challenging patients as a team and to use every tool we have to get the best result for our patients. It is not uncommon for a patient to be on first name basis with a number of therapists and importantly also the assistants. We want our patients to feel ‘part of the family’ so that the experience of coming to the clinic is something to always look forward to.