Becoming partners in rehabilitation with patients in intensive care: physiotherapists’ perspectives

Carruthers, Helen; Derry, David and Astin, Felicity (2023). Becoming partners in rehabilitation with patients in intensive care: physiotherapists’ perspectives. Disability and Rehabilitation (Early access).



Purpose: Person-centred care is widely accepted as being central to high quality care, but little is known about how physiotherapists implement person centred rehabilitation in Intensive Care. This study explores the self-reported experiences and interpretations of physiotherapists delivering person-centred rehabilitation in this setting.
Methods: A qualitative study using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis explored the lived experiences of physiotherapists and students who have worked in Intensive Care. Three focus groups, with four participants in each, were conducted. Data were fully transcribed, analysed and managed using NVivo software.
Results: Participants shared similar interpretations about the principles of person-centred care. Operationalising person-centred rehabilitation during early recovery was not easily achievable. As the person’s clinical condition improved, participants moved away from routine physiotherapy and their practice became more person-centred through the development of a partnership. Participants connected as humans to understand the person and respond to their needs within a culture that valued person-centred care.
Conclusions: Physiotherapists aspire to develop a partnership with their patients by connecting on a human level with them and addressing their biopsychosocial needs. Physiotherapists with experience of developing patient partnerships influence the culture of the Intensive Care team and are role-models to facilitate collaborative person-centred activity in others.

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