New campaign uses patients’ first words and footsteps

Specialist rehabilitation nurse and London Creative Agency Pablo Join Forces on Emotional Billboard and Radio Campaign Launching Nationwide 19th February Former Top Gear Presenter and Rehab Patient Richard Hammond Voices Campaign

The National Orthopaedic Alliance is proud to support a major new campaign launched today calling for an end to the postcode lottery for NHS rehabilitation services that help people recover from the likes of car crashes, cancer or strokes. There is currently no guaranteed access to this vital care and the call is for life-changing NHS rehab services to be made available to everyone in the UK no matter where they live.

The campaign, created by intensive care rehabilitation nurse Kate Tantam and her multi-professional team alongside independent creative agency Pablo, celebrates patients’ ‘firsts’ since hospitalisation – the first tentative footsteps or first halting words – monumental milestones for those lucky enough to receive specialist rehabilitation care.

The patients’ first steps are now on billboards and the re-learned voice is a radio ad with a voiceover from Richard Hammond – who himself needed many months of specialist rehabilitation after suffering a traumatic brain injury in a high-speed crash whilst filming Top Gear in 2006.

The campaign is supported by more than 20 healthcare charities, royal colleges and professional bodies such as the National Orthopaedic Alliance, Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), the British Geriatric Society, Asthma+Lung UK and the Stroke Association who are all members of the Community Rehabilitation Alliance, as well as actor Stephen Fry who needed rehabilitation after breaking his leg, pelvis and several ribs in a fall from a stage at the O2 is also supporting the campaign.

He said: “I had a very nasty fall from a 6ft high stage onto concrete. The orthopaedic Surgeon warned me that people who had fallen from lesser heights had never walked again. I am one of the lucky ones and I am feeling whole and heeled thanks to good physiotherapy. I feel very lucky to be able to walk again which is why I’m supporting this campaign to make rehabilitation services available no matter where you live. Rehabilitation is just as important as medicine and surgery in helping people reclaim their lives after injury, illness or because of long-term conditions. Everyone deserves access to rehabilitation and I back this campaign to have rehab reps in every hospital to ensure everyone gets the get the right help at the right time.”

Rehabilitation, including Physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, Speech and language Therapy and Specialist Nutritional Support, plays a vital role in helping people recover after an accident or illness, such as a stroke, cancer or car crash. But shockingly, millions of people don’t have access to NHS rehab services in their area. What’s more, many of these people can’t afford to pay for private rehab services, creating huge economic inequality when it comes to recovery.

To highlight just how important rehab is and help end this postcode lottery, the Pablo team travelled to rehab centres, hospitals and intensive care units in Plymouth and documented a series of ‘patient firsts’ that were only possible thanks to rehabilitation. Starting with patients’ first steps since an illness or accident.

Pablo worked with patients like Paul, who suffered a motorbike accident that fractured his vertebrae, leaving him unable to walk; Adrian, whose sore toe led to leg amputation and Jo, a lover of the outdoors, who suffered a paralysing stroke while walking in the countryside.

The patients’ feet were painted with safe, non-slip paint and their very first footsteps since their hospitalisation were captured on sheets of vinyl which have now been transformed into billboard posters calling for rehab provision for all. Members of the public can actually see and touch the real footprints at poster sites throughout the UK.

And footsteps weren’t the only ‘firsts’ that were captured. In a powerful radio advert, a patient whose accident left them unable to speak, uses their faltering first words post-rehab to appeal to the public to support the campaign. The radio features voiceover by Richard Hammond who relied on rehab to get back on his feet after a crash whilst filming Top Gear in 2006.

When patients don’t have access to rehab, it can slow or halt their recovery, damaging their quality of life and mental health and causing lasting disability, distress and deterioration of health. Quality rehab takes a multidisciplinary team effort, from physiotherapists, nurses, speech and language therapists, support workers, occupational therapists and psychologists, all playing a major role in a patient’s recovery.

The statistics are shocking:

  • For stroke victims, rehabilitation can reduce the risk of a further stroke by 35% and enable people to regain their independence, but fewer than 1 in 3 get the help they need.
  • Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease (COPD) exacerbations are the 2nd largest cause of emergency hospital admissions. Rehabilitation reduces admissions by 14% and hospital bed days by 50% but less than 40% of eligible people are offered it.
  • Cardiovascular disease accounts for 1 million hospital admissions per year, 100,000 of these are due to heart attacks. Rehabilitation prevents the progression of cardiovascular disease (CVD) and heart attacks. Yet only 50% of eligible patients receive it. There would be 50,000 fewer hospital admissions if access was 85%.The campaign directs people to PetitionForRehab.com, where they can sign a petition calling forrehab to be made available everywhere and for a named rehab lead to be appointed on every hospital trust and board in the UK.

Kate Tantam, ICU rehabilitation nurse and founder of #RehabLegend said: “Rehabilitation gets our patients back to the people and things that they love. Their goals might not seem big – to hold their grandson, to make a cup of tea, to go to the loo on their own, to say ‘I love you’ – but they are mountains to climb if you can’t move your arms or legs or have lost the power of speech.”

“Rehabilitation gives people back the lives they have lost. I hope this campaign helps persuade NHS leaders across the UK to provide much needed rehab services.”

Dan Watts, Executive Creative Director at Pablo, said: “With one in two people expected to get cancer in their lifetime and one in six expected to suffer a stroke, more and more people are requiring rehab services.

“Far from being a niche issue, it affects us all, and it is a humbling experience to see the huge impact specialist rehabilitation experts like Kate can make. We hope people will see the campaign and sign the petition calling upon the Government to make rehab more universally available and a rehab representative to be appointed at every single hospital.”

The campaign has also been supported by Baroness Ilora Finlay, President of the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), and a professor of palliative medicine, who said:

“Specialist rehabilitation care is essential to support people to adapt as they grieve for what they have lost – such as the power of speech, the ability to walk, their independence – and it gives them realistic hope of improvement. We must never lose sight of the fact that the person is still there and is of value, not just, say, a ‘car crash victim’ or ‘cancer victim’.

“Everyone deserves the right to regain the best life they can, but this can only happen with the right rehabilitation care at the right time and not everyone will get it. Care should not depend on where you live, which is why this campaign for universal access is so vitally important.”

The billboards are live in seven cities throughout the UK and the radio ads are being played nationwide. Some OOH Media has been donated by Jack Arts. Radio airtime was secured by YOU Agency.