Guest blog by Owner/Clinical Director, Helen Goodson
It is five years ago this week that we moved Harpenden Physiotherapy into Kinsbourne Court and such a milestone leads me to reminisce.
The original core of the practice was comprised of four physiotherapists who met in 1987 while working as physiotherapists at the BUPA hospital in Harpenden, now known as Spire. Caroline Cozon, Jenny King-Davis, myself and Jo Parrot. Caroline had four children by this stage and was considered to be superwoman as she didn’t fall asleep during clinics – unlike myself. There was much laughter and friendship forged by long hours and demanding consultants. The thing that we all had in common was a vigorous and thorough training. Jo trained at Pinderfields, which was notorious for doing its rehab sessions in local young offender’s institutions. Jo had some adapting to do in the early stages for the people of Harpenden. Jenny, Caroline and I trained at London hospitals, University trained physios were unheard of. Jenny went to Australia and New Zealand after qualifying and worked under leading surgeons so she was full of exotic Antipodean expertise about knees and all their wondrous mysteries. Caroline had specialised in Paediatrics and grew a wonderful reputation for her treatments for babies.
32 years, 11 children and many thousands of treatments later, Caroline and Jenny have taken their well- earned retirement. Jo and I continue to ply our trade together on Tuesdays, just like the old days, treating patients, trading gossip and drinking coffee with the companionship of an old married couple. Jo, my friend, we will retire together because as we have said many times no one else would work with us.
Helen and her fellow practitioners enjoying a well-deserved evening meal.
A vibrant young team of Physiotherapists
While I miss working with my old friends, we now have younger physiotherapists joining the practice. With them has come an energy and a more holistic approach to physiotherapy. They bring new skills and innovative technological expertise. Who knew 32 years ago that the exercise sheets we handed out would become interactive? Acupuncture and Pilates are mainstream and female physiotherapists can wear trousers – we honestly weren’t allowed to in 1983! Our physiotherapists cover a range of disciplines, and each one has something special to offer at Harpenden Physiotherapy.
Post-operative rehabilitation and Vestibular Physiotherapy
Karen Osborn was the first new physio to join us four years ago and with her came our strength in post-operative rehabilitation. Karen is a first choice physio for our local surgeons and she has also educated not just our patients but us physios at Harpenden Physiotherapy in rehab techniques. Karen’s expertise in treating Vestibular problems has also brought us a whole new clientele. What people don’t know is that Karen always goes the extra mile for her patients. She comes in to the clinic in her own time to call patients and do letters for them; she will always start early and finish late if patients need her and I doubt that we thank her enough!
Kathryn Gunter was also a wonderful addition to the team. Kathryn is unflappable and a lovely calm presence in the clinic. Although I am sure that she would rather be treating dogs, Kathryn develops a rapport with her patients and has developed a strong following in her three years with us. She brings a breadth of physiotherapy knowledge and due to her Pilates training is often tasked with treating our more complicated back conditions. I often hear myself saying to my patients, “you must see Kathryn!” (Sorry, Kathryn!)
Neurological Physio and Elderly Care
Emily arrived and the elderly and infirm patients of Harpenden must have though Christmas had come early. With her background in neurological and elderly care physiotherapy and running falls prevention programmes in the NHS, she has transformed the lives of our more vulnerable patients in Harpenden. Her kindness and painstaking approach has seen patients able to stay at home rather than go into nursing homes and also return home from nursing care and maintain their independence. Many of our unsung heroes, carers, have cause to be grateful when they have Emily as their secret weapon in what can be a lonely and frightening struggle to keep a loved one at home. Emily is also great fun on a night out!
We were very lucky to have Andy living locally and I poached him from another clinic – I’m not proud! Andy runs a large NHS clinic, has young children and still manages to treat patients for us two evenings a week until 9pm. His main area of expertise is sports physio but he is also my go-to-man for anything physio related. Physiotherapy, like all professions, is always evolving. Some of us (me) are not so quick to embrace new techniques and practices, Andy keeps Harpenden Physiotherapy current and relevant and every physiotherapy practice should have an Andy.
Charlotte has been with us a year and is growing a reputation in Harpenden for her sports massage. She also works within dance and as is commonly known, dancers are a tough breed, so she knows how to deliver a tough massage when needed. As Charlotte is now training as an equine masseur, she will soon be able to treat the four-legged as well as the two. Charlotte lowers the average age in the clinic by a decade or two but we aim to increase her clinics this year and therefore age her as much as possible.
Specialist shoulder work
On Matt’s patient folder is written The Professor, this is in honour of his other job as a physiotherapy lecturer to the lucky students at the University of Hertfordshire and as a reviewer of our prestigious Physiotherapy Journal. He has a Master’s degree in physiotherapy and his post graduate work into the shoulder makes him invaluable not just to us but to the physiotherapy profession as a whole. He is with us on a Monday evening but I’m working very hard on him to give us more hours. I have made him sound very dry and erudite but Matt is my favourite conspirator and, like Emily, definitely someone you would want on a physio night out…
Siobhan is our most recent arrival and our Women’s Health Specialist physio and we are so happy to have her with us. So many women suffer in silence but thanks to physios like Siobhan they can now be heard and helped. This is such a specialist area within physiotherapy that there are very few physios trained like Siobhan. She is also a lovely quiet influence in what can become quite a fraught staffroom on busy evenings but although it’s early days I’m thinking she may give Emily and Matt a run for their money!
The heartbeat of the clinic
Behind the Physiotherapy, Sports Massage, Pilates and Acupuncture is the heartbeat of the clinic. You may meet them on reception, Gillian and Karen. They are responsible for keeping me sane over the last five years. They correct all my diary mistakes, refile my filing, retype my letters, deal with insurance companies, GP’s and consultants and also find time to make exhausted physios numerous cups of coffee. I thank you both for the last five years of invaluable help and friendship – I promise to sort out the filing.
THE MITCHELL BROTHERS – yes, we have our own corner of East Enders sitting at the desk on Monday and Thursday evenings. Charlie and Matt, they not only sort out our IT and provide reams of data and statistics but they also work behind the bar at the Queen Vic and can be hired as hitmen for a very reasonable price. Just call 01582761448 to make an appointment.
A fond farewell
We have also said goodbye to three of the physiotherapists who started out with us. Tom was in on the beginning at Kinsbourne court and it was like losing a family member. Staff and patients are sorely missing him. Adam left us to work in Dubai and we miss his sense of fun and great work ethic, we hope he will find his way home before long and join us again. Claire, who started our Women’s Health Physiotherapy, left us to take up a major role in Urodynamics, our loss is definitely their gain as she is one of the best physios I have ever worked with. I hope that she too will find her way back to us. Karen Shipton, a wonderful sports masseur is taking some time out and will be much missed by our patients and especially by me. All of these old friends have helped to shape Harpenden physiotherapy and leave it in good hands.
A personal Thank You from me, to you
This blog started as a trip down memory lane but has ended as a thank you letter to everyone at Harpenden Physiotherapy. So of course I must thank the man who started this adventure. He likens managing physiotherapists to ‘herding cats’ but without his vision Harpenden Physiotherapy would not be here.
Thank you, Scott.
Helen Goodson – Owner/Clinical Director, Harpenden Physiotherapy