Bridget Dickson.

Physiotherapist Bridget Dickson was closely involved in the staff user groups helping plan the New Dunedin Hospital


What does your job involve?

I’m the Physiotherapy Professional Lead for the SDHB.

I’ve been involved in rehabilitation for the past 20 years and that’s where my clinical interest and expertise comes from. I’ve worked in the in-patient rehabilitation unit in Wakari and more recently been involved in the community setting once people have left hospital.

How did you get involved in the User Groups?

I was invited to be involved. I’ve got research background and experience in inter-disciplinary and evidence based practice.

I found the process was really great to get you thinking ahead.

In health you’re often confined by what the building looks like now or the staffing you have now or the types of skills mix you have now. So this was an opportunity to really start afresh and think, ‘If we could wave our magic wand, what would rehabilitation look like?’

What did you take away from the process?

A lot of the current rehabilitation services have funding for under 65s and funding for over 65s. But, as we all know, 65 is really the new 45 so really we shouldn’t be viewing people who are 66, or 75 or even 80 to be the same as a 95-year-old. We really want to kind of break those barriers.

As people grow and age they still deserve an intense, active, goal directed inspirational and aspirational rehabilitation service and I think that was the key thing we can look towards – being a non-ageist or an age inclusive model. So that was one of our key focuses and key recommendations.

What can people expect from the rehabilitation unit in the new hospital?

Some of it will be about having the right equipment and technology – things such as wearable technology like Fitbits which might, for example, give reminders to encourage someone to activate their upper limb following a stroke.

But we want to be able to promote people’s own participation in their rehab rather than a very passive where you come and have rehab done to you. We want to give people the skills and expertise to continue their rehab with support from their family and whānau once they leave the hospital setting. So that’s probably more where we’re looking.

Are you excited about the new hospital?

I’m really excited, especially about promoting activity and wellness. Having that broader view of how can this new hospital promote wellness and physical activity for all the people that become involved with it? Things like active transport to the hospital – how can we be promoting that?

I think that in the User Groups and Clinical Leadership Group there is a lot of commitment and positivity from all the people who’ve been involved and a great passion for how collectively we can have a visionary health system in our area.

This really is a catalyst for us being able to really create a future for our health system that we’re all really proud of.