Rocky Bay Physiotherapist, Simon Martelli, was the recipient of the 2019 scholarship from The Rocky Bay Foundation, which saw him embark on a study tour of Norway and Belgium in May.
The Rocky Bay Foundation Scholarship offers Rocky Bay staff a unique professional development opportunity to learn best-practice methods and new approaches by visiting organisations in Australia and overseas.
Simon visited facilities in Norway and Belgium to observe and participate in neuromuscular service provision, including physical rehabilitation, respiratory care and equipment prescription and education. He also observed evidence-based neuromuscular practices, networked with professionals in the neuromuscular field, and gained insights that can be used to improve and expand Rocky Bay’s services.
Beitostølen Helesportsenter – Beitostølen, Norway
Simon spent a week at Beitostølen Helesportsenter, which supports intensive therapy in group-based sessions. Customers participate in activities and exercise programs aligned to their particular goals, and are provided effective holistic rehabilitation in a fun environment so that they are able to continue to participate as actively as possible in the community.
Some of the activities offered include bike riding, horse riding, circuit training, dog sledding, hydrotherapy, school and meetings with social workers or doctors.
“I was pleasantly surprised with the supportive nature of all the customers in the group,” Simon said.
“Everyone was very accommodating when it came to mobility exercises for those in wheelchairs, and it was a very motivating seeing customers engaged and performing optimally to reach their goals and personal bests.”
Inkendaal Rehabilitation Hospital – Vlezenbeek, Belgium
One of the leading facilities in Europe when it comes to the care of customers with neurological and neuromuscular conditions who also experience respiratory issues, Simon chose to visit Inkendaal Rehabilitation Hospital to work with Dr Michel Toussaint, one of the world’s leading physiotherapists in the field of respiratory care amongst neuromuscular patients.
Simon worked with Dr Toussaint’s team to learn about the equipment they use in their treatments and understand the different methods in respiratory care, including the use of Intrapulmonary Percussive Ventilation (IPV) treatment, a machine that helps to ease respiratory issues.
Simon said the hospital placed a huge importance on rapport building between staff and patients during sessions.
“It was lovely to see the families and therapists laughing and creating a jovial environment whilst still providing a high standard of care,” added Simon.
The Rocky Bay Foundation Scholarship allowed Simon the opportunity to explore new ways of providing services to Rocky Bay customers. His learnings have given our TPS team an insight into existing areas of strengths, as well as other approaches to consider to ensure the most effective way to achieve positive outcomes for customers.
This includes the TPS team piloting a therapy camp for customers in the near future, an approach commonly used in Europe to provide the benefits of social interaction and physical motivation to customers.
Rocky Bay also has an opportunity to create a community hub for people with disability to connect and socialise, as well as build friendships for families who have similar interests and experiences, as Simon discovered at Inkendaal Rehabilitation Hospital. Collaboration with other organisations in the sector and sharing information will also help to add to the knowledge and skill base of our therapy staff.
Simon said he found the entire experience incredible. It provided him with a deeper understanding of different cultural perceptions of disability, in addition to new ways of providing services.
“I was able to build relationships with staff and experts all over the world in the field of neuromuscular care and experience therapy interventions that I would not have seen anywhere else,” Simon said.
“The trip has changed how I approach therapy and has motivated me to look for ways to improve how we deliver services to Rocky Bay customers.”