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Rehabilitation in the UKEMT: Our impact in 2020 and plans for 2021

Emergency Rehabilitation
International United Kingdom

Humanity & Inclusion's Rehabilitation Team reflects on the key events which shaped last year looks forward to making even more progress with the UK Emergency Medical Team in 2021.

UKEMT staff, including rehabilitation specialist Gaelle Smith, working with AUSMAT, NZMAT and local Samoan staff responding to the Samoa measles outbreak in 2019.

UKEMT staff, including rehabilitation specialist Gaelle Smith, working with AUSMAT, NZMAT and local Samoan staff responding to the Samoa measles outbreak in 2019. | © UK-Med

Deployments in 2020

In 2020, which centred on COVID-19 emergencies, the United Kingdom Emergency Medical Team (UKEMT) was deployed to locations such as Bangladesh, Lebanon and Armenia. Humanity & Inclusion (HI) provided remote COVID-19 rehabilitation support to Bangladesh and Armenia, training local staff in patient care and recovery, both in health care facilities and community settings.

In August, Zoe Clift deployed as part of the UKEMT in an initial assessment role to Beirut, Lebanon, following the blast in the city. She subsequently supported the WHO EMT Coordination Cell for 7 weeks.

Our recent webinar covered details of the UKEMT deployments to Beirut (2020) and Samoa (2019). Members of the UKEMT register can email us to access a copy of the recording.

Susie Wolstenholme and Maeve Tohill, physiotherapists from the NHS supporting the Measles outbreak in Samoa, 2019

Susie Wolstenholme and Maeve Tohill, physiotherapists from the NHS supporting the Measles outbreak in Samoa, 2019. © UK-Med

Changes to the UKEMT Rehabilitation team

Since our last update, there have been changes to the core staff at HI who support all elements of rehabilitation and protection within the UKEMT deployment capabilities.

The current core HI team is:

  • Zoe Clift - Rehabilitation Project Manager
  • Gaelle Smith - Global Rehabilitation Specialist (Outbreak specialist team)
  • Abi Aston-Payne - Global Rehabilitation Specialist (Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) specialist team)
  • Ben Thatcher - Administration Support

Pete Skelton, former rehabilitation project manager, has moved on to work with the World Health Organisation (WHO) continuing his work of promoting and facilitating rehabilitation in emergency settings.

New Outbreak specialist

in early 2020 we were delighted to secure funding for a new ‘Rehabilitation in Outbreaks Specialist’ and were joined by Gaelle Smith in this role. This not only enables the UKEMT to better support deployments but also develops the rehabilitation element of the UKEMT Outbreak Response Specialist Team (ORST), which is currently underway to WHO EMT verification.

In addition, Gaelle, with the support of Dr. Bronwen Connolly (Queen’s University Belfast), a specialist in critical care physiotherapy, provided the World Health Organisation (WHO) with technical support to ensure rehabilitation was included in COVID-19 guidance. These documents are freely available below:

Supporting the Measles outbreak in Samoa, 2019

A mother and child enjoying their first moments together after the child no longer required additional oxygen having been critically unwell with complicated measles, Samoa 2019. © UK-Med

Training

Abi Aston-Payne has taken over as lead in the Spinal Cord Injury (SCI) Cell and is helping transform our training for specialist teams. As face-to-face training opportunities have not been possible, we are working with UK-Med to digitalise these training programmes. We have every intention to return to or have elements of a face-to-face training programme when possible.

Early Rehabilitation in Conflicts and Disasters (Handbook and E-learning)

Early Rehabilitation Handbook coverLast year, HI, in collaboration with key partners (the AO Foundation, ICRC, MSF France, CBM, Livability and WHO), launched the world’s first educational resource for Early Rehabilitation in Conflicts and Disasters. The Field Handbook is freely available globally and online for any rehabilitation professionals living in or preparing to work in emergency settings. Charmi Lathia (project lead) coordinated this collaboration, and it is now available in a hardcopy (English and French) and digital (English, French and Arabic) formats.

Charmi has now returned to the NHS but the HI team has continued her work to reach the milestone of a freely accessible e-learning which can be completed in your own time. Access the course on DisasterReady.org.

Looking forward to 2021

We hope to run more webinars this year for UKEMT members and we are always looking for feedback. If there are any topics you would like us to cover, do not hesitate to contact us by email.

UKEMT members who are keen to network with peers can also join the rehab Facebook group - please email us to ask for the link.

If you are not on Facebook, do not worry! HI & UK-Med will ensure to keep you up to date on key updates via the UKEMT email list.

 

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Date published: 01/02/21

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