Helene had always known that an office job was not for her and she wanted a career that would keep her active. After working as physiotherapist she decided that she wanted to specialise in respiratory patients and fast forward a few years she joined the team at UCLH treating patients within the severe asthma service and respiratory outpatients.
"Because UCLH is such a specialist centre I am encountering patients with rare conditions. I’m constantly learning and I have to keep on top of an ever evolving skill set."
When Helene decided to move to the UK 12 years ago she had already been working as a physiotherapist in South Africa for some years. She recalls, “Two years after arriving in London I realised that I wanted to specialise within a specific field of physiotherapy. I have worked across London in respiratory outpatient services, but the Severe Asthma Service at UCLH offered the perfect opportunity to develop my skills and treat a particular group of patients”.
Helene works in outpatient clinics (Severe Asthma Service and Respiratory Outpatients) seeing patients on a one-to-one basis. Treatment involves managing breathlessness, getting people more physically active and into exercise, improving their breathing patterns, using airways clearance techniques and relaxation techniques. She explains, “It all depends on what the needs and goals of the patient are as to what is provided. Our aim is to help patients regain their independence and quality of life. We work with patients to develop the ability and confidence to self-manage their conditions as much as is possible”.
"The team has an ethos of constant improvement – we’re always open to change and new ways of working. It is a very dynamic and exciting environment."
Part of what Helene finds rewarding about her role is getting to know her patients. She says, “I see such a variety of patients – young and old, and from a variety of backgrounds. Some patients I will see for just one or two treatment sessions. Other patients I will see indefinitely for long term follow up”. The job does not come without its challenges though. Helene explains, “Because UCLH is such a specialist centre I am encountering patients with rare conditions. I’m constantly learning and I have to keep on top of an ever evolving skill set”.
At UCLH Helene works within a large multi-disciplinary team (MDT) including consultants, nurses, dieticians and physiotherapists. She explains, “What makes the team at UCLH different from others is that you have access to everybody in the team. Everybody is so friendly and approachable. The team also has an ethos of constant improvement – we’re always open to change and new ways of working. It is a very dynamic and exciting environment”.
Helene does not see herself leaving anytime soon. She explains, “UCLH provides the ideal situation to take my career forward. I got into physiotherapy because I want to help people and I want to remain in a clinical role. Going forward I will get more involved in research at UCLH and work on developing and growing the service that I work in. The future is exciting for the team, our patients and me!”