How many times has a patient not been able to see you, because they didn’t have coverage and couldn’t afford to pay? We live within one of the most advanced healthcare delivery models in the world. But look around your neighbourhood, your city. You’ll find people who need you, people who need physiotherapists.
I believe physiotherapists are some of the most caring and compassionate health care professionals. All of us want to help. Sometimes we just don’t know how. Should we travel to far off places? Should we reach out in times of disaster? Absolutely. But sometimes, we overlook how we can help our neighbours. There are amazingly wonderful people who would love to be stronger and out of pain, and what if we could help them? What if we teamed up with our communities and provided care that broke down the barriers of money, or language, or transportation? What would that look like?
We can lobby our provincial governments for increased funding for physiotherapy. And that’s important. But in the meantime, we can make an immediate difference. Consider volunteering your time and skills. Do you have two hours a week? That seems like a lot when we have jobs and families and roles to fulfil. But what if those two hours could change someone’s life?
In Guelph, a team of physiotherapists from all different clinics came together to run Ontario’s first volunteer physiotherapy clinic. They partnered with the Guelph Community Health Centre, who provided the space, translators, administration, and referrals for people who could not normally access physiotherapy services due to financial, language, or transportation issues. Each physiotherapist volunteers two hours a week to provide evidenced-based, one-on-one care just like in a private practice-setting. The patients and doctors rave about the quality of care and outcomes provided. In 2015, the volunteer physiotherapy clinic was honoured with the Health Equity Award from the Association of Ontario Health Centres for their innovative efforts in breaking down the barriers for accessing healthcare. The clinic has now expanded into a second site, and Community Health Centres have a working model that could be copied throughout the province, with the right physiotherapists at the helm.
Physiotherapists make a difference in people’s lives. Let’s help that difference reach everyone.
If you are interested in volunteering your time to help those in your own community, please contact Tegan Vermey at firstname.lastname@example.org
Written by Tegan Vermey