Most of us are well familiar with a multidisciplinary approach to meeting all of a patient's needs. Input from doctors, nursing, OT, PT, speech, and social work help us to provide better outcomes for patients. Notice the key word there... patients. What about people? Once a person becomes a patient, something has already gone wrong. This is where my public health work starts to kick in.
Today I presented at a meeting that connected older adults falling over with cold homes and excessive winter mortalities (EWM). There were three people representing the health services, but most of the other attendees were from the local council, housing department, welfare office, telecare (the UK version of personal emergency response systems), and even someone from British Gas. There are so many risk factors for falls, but one of them is living in a cold home. In healthcare we're used to being reactive, whereas public health is more about being proactive. How do we prevent the fall from happening in the first place?
In my presentation on the risks for falling, the financial impact of falling on this community today, and the projections for the next 20 years, I was able to get the interest of people who thought they had nothing to do with fall prevention. By investing in some preventative programs now, such as ensuring older people have warm homes in the winter, we can avoid the financial burdens later on, freeing up money for other needs.
As PTs we know well the end results of accidents. We often have to figure out what caused them and we can apply that knowledge to preventing further accidents for others. That's the kind of service and work I want to be doing at this point in my career.