Service launched to support WA people with a spinal cord injury

Three women are seated in a gym therapy area. One of the women is seated in a wheelchair.
Executive Director People with Disabilities (WA) Samantha Jenkinson, Executive Director Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group Janet Zagari and Spinal Outreach Service Team Leader Ruth Crowe.
September 11, 2018

A new statewide service launched by Fiona Stanley Hospital is set to change the lives of more than 1000 people living with a spinal cord injury in Western Australia.

The Spinal Outreach Service (SOS) is designed to empower and support spinal cord injury patients to return to the community after being discharged from the State Rehabilitation Service (SRS) Spinal Unit. The service will also support people already living with tetraplegia and paraplegia in the community.

SOS will act as a consultation and advisory service, supporting patients to maintain their functional independence and achieve self-management after the life-changing experience of a spinal injury.

Initially, patients newly discharged from the SRS will be part of a short term community rehabilitation program. Senior nursing and allied health clinicians will collaborate with the person, their families and local service providers to promote independence and provide specialised spinal education and advice.

People will be able to access ongoing support and advice through telehealth and a telephone hotline.

Executive Director Fiona Stanley Fremantle Hospitals Group Janet Zagari said transitioning from inpatient rehabilitation to the home environment can be a daunting experience for spinal injury patients.

“This will be a life-changing program which promotes self-management with the support of a multidisciplinary team to empower patients in the next phase of their recovery and to rebuild their lives,” she said.

“Being able to transition patients from our State Rehabilitation Service into the community through a continuum of care model will be beneficial to the patient, as we often see patients thrive in their home environment.

“The service will promote self-management and independence and provide education and advice to the person, their family and local providers, with support from the specialist team at Fiona Stanley Hospital.”

This service is an outcome of an independent review by a team from the Queensland Spinal Cord Injuries Service commissioned by North Metropolitan Health Service, and the subsequent development of a model of care designed to suit Western Australia.

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