Although the Ptolemy Reid Rehabilitation Centre has a good cadre of trained professionals who are able to offer services in the area of Speech Therapy, Occupational Therapy and Physiotherapy, who are ably supported by Assistant staff, there is always a need for more trained professionals.
This notion was emphasised yesterday by Rehabilitation Officer with responsibility for the management of the facility, Ms Janice Simmons.
Simmons noted that the facility currently has about six staff members dedicated to rehabilitation and about four teachers.
“We could do with quite a few more, trained specifically in rehabilitation of children. We need that speciality, but the people we have right now are doing a very good job,” she asserted.
To help bolster the existing staff complement, she revealed that Nurse Aids are trained in the area of rehabilitation assistance, whereby they are able to render care to disabled children who utilise the day care service at the centre.
“This is specialised treatment, not just the basic nursing skills.
They have to be taught a little bit of the rehabilitation skills, how to feed children with disabilities, how to dress them, and how to sit them up and put them in their wheelchairs and things like that.” The effort of the centre is also supported by the contribution of volunteers from the Voluntary Services Overseas (VSO).
Simmons, who has had over 35 years of experience in the field of rehabilitation services, has been in charge of the facility for the past three years.
She admitted to this newspaper during an interview yesterday that attending to persons with disabilities is not the easiest service to provide within the health field.
She is of the firm opinion that persons are only able to remain in the field if they are very committed.
“They not only have to be committed but they have to be very much in tuned with children.
They have to love children and be steadfast in wanting to see them move from one milestone to the next, one achievement to the next; maybe they (disabled children) came in and they couldn’t sit up, but with intervention they can sit up…That is a happy time which is even more celebrated when some of them are able to learn to walk.”
But despite the fact that there is a dire need for an increase in its trained staff, the Rehabilitation Centre has introduced a new programme which is likely to improve the way services are offered to children. With the launch of the new and innovative programme, it is expected that children accessing the service of the centre will be able to gain necessary medical attention at an early stage.
Simmons during the interview revealed that the ‘Early Identification and Intervention Programme’ – which was launched at the centre yesterday – is so designed to ensure that children suffering from various forms of disabilities can visit the facility at an early age and be afforded care and support.
“Rather than coming in at six years old or at 14 years old, after being at home all the time with no intervention, they can now come in early…We have found this happening over the years, children are just coming in very late and we are seeing them after they would have suffered for many years… this is what is happening and we are trying to avoid that.”
The Rehabilitation Centre at the moment caters to over 80 children with varying disabilities, some of whom are able to benefit from medical clinics on Tuesdays and Thursdays, as well as classes held at the facility every week day.
About 30 patients are attended to per clinic day, and according to Simmons, academic classes are suitably prepared to cater to the needs of the disabled.
“They don’t all come every time, but at least per day we have about 40 children being taught. They learn as best as they can, and the learning sessions are (inclusive of) English and Maths, tailored to suit their level of understanding.”
In addition, the centre caters to new children with disabilities every Friday, an offering which usually sees the attendance of approximately 12 persons added to the existing list.
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