The experiences of physiotherapists treating people with dementia who fracture their hip.
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BACKGROUND: It is estimated that people with dementia are approximately three times more likely to fracture their hip than sex and age matched controls. A report by the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy found that this population have poor access to rehabilitation as inpatients and in the community. A recent scoping review found a paucity of research in this area, indeed there has been no qualitative research undertaken with physiotherapists. In order to address this evidence gap, the aim of this current study was to explore the experiences of physiotherapists treating this population. METHODS: Semi-structured interviews with physiotherapists were undertaken in order to gain an in-depth understanding of how they manage this population. Physiotherapists were recruited from all over the UK and a purposive sampling strategy was employed. Thematic analysis was utilised. RESULTS: A total of 12 physiotherapists were interviewed, at which stage data saturation was reached as no new themes were emerging. The participants had a broad range of experience both in physical and mental health settings. Analysis identified three separate themes: challenges, "thinking outside the box" and realising potential. Physiotherapists felt significant pressures and challenges regarding many aspects of the management of this population. Mainly this was the result of pressures placed on them by guidelines and targets that may not be achievable or appropriate for those with dementia. The challenges and importance of risk taking was also highlighted for this population with an appreciation that standard treatment techniques may need adapting. "Rehabilitation potential" was highlighted as an important consideration, but challenging to determine. CONCLUSION: Interventions for the management of people with dementia and hip fracture need to consider that a traditional biomedical physiotherapy approach may not be the most appropriate approach to use with this population. However physiotherapists reported feeling pressurised to conform to a biomedical approach.
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