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AwardsSep 11, 2023

Recycling scheme from the 'Garden of England' is shortlisted in the 2023 Chief AHP Officer awards

A Kent-based elbow crutch recycling scheme is one of four entries to be shortlisted in the Greener Allied Health Professions category of this year’s Chief Allied Health Professions Officer (CAHPO) Awards

Nominations for the presigious 2023 awards, which contain nine categories, had to be submitted by a deadline of 9 June. A team of judges scored the submissions in July and drew up a shortlist of potential contenders in each category, with the winners being announced at an event hosted by England’s chief AHP officer Suzanne Rastrick on the evening of 12 October.

Occupational therapist Shirley Rashid is the professional lead for adult services with Canterbury Community Rehabilitation Team, part of Kent Community Health NHS Foundation Trust (KCHFT). She developed the scheme after realising that her physiotherapy colleagues in Kent – a county often known as the Garden of England – were doling out equipment that never came back.

Last year, Shirley applied to Kent and Medway Integrated Care Board (ICB) for funding to buy 50 pairs of elbow crutches, in order to ensure they were readily available when patients needed them. Previously, each paid of crutches was ordered on an ad hoc basis and patients could wait for up to eight weeks for them to arrive.

Photo Credit: Kent Community Health NHS Trust
Shirley Rashid's innovative 'green' project is shortlisted for a 2023 CAHPO award


What is the Greener AHP Award 2023?

The award – which is sponsored by Greener NHS – recognises an AHP team or individual who has delivered service improvements which improve healthcare’s environmental impact, for example carbon reduction projects or increasing equipment reuse. Nominations were welcomed from AHPs and their teams, including support workers and students.

Thanks to Shirley’s efforts, the elbow crutches can now be returned to the KCHFT community hospital or clinic that handed them out. Work is underway to set up recycling stores for various pieces of equipment at Deal Hospital and Tonbridge Community Hospital.

Physiotherapists give out a lot of equipment and I felt a responsibility around sustainability, which is why I set up the recycling scheme ... We’ve had good results so far [Shirley Rashid]

Shirley, who featured in an article appearing on the trust’s website last month, said: ‘We were seeing people in the community who needed these, but ordering them individually took a lot of form filling and waiting time for patients.

‘We did some work with the ICB and demonstrated there was also a need for us to have a stock of these for people we see in the community, so we could give them out straight away.

‘The problem was people could not return them. Physiotherapists give out a lot of equipment and I felt a responsibility around sustainability, which is why I set up the recycling scheme.

A 'win-win'

Shirley added: ‘We’ve had good results so far. Patients get the crutches quicker and feel better that they can return them to the NHS. We aim to increase the return rate of equipment prescribed by KCHFT.

‘As well as improving the environmental impact, I'm so pleased we can now help people quicker. Patients have commented that crutches increase their independence, help them get out of the house, that they feel more confident and empowered and like they are making progress and that they have helped with both physical and mental health and wellbeing.’

Lessons learned from changing elbow crutches to ‘core stock’ include

  • benefits to patients by reducing waiting times for equipment
  • saving physiotherapists’ clinical time
  • saving money
  • potentially helping with caseload management and reducing waiting times to access community rehabilitation

Cost savings: If each of the eight community teams used 24 pairs of crutches a year at £9.07 instead of £14.99, a annual saving of £1,136.64 could be achieved. Source: The full project plan. For more information, click   

The scheme could win a second award this year, courtesy of the Academy of Fabulous NHS Stuff 

The national AHP award categories are as follows

  • AHP leadership for equality, diversity, and inclusion award
  • AHP research impact award
  • AHP digital practice award
  • AHP workforce transformation award
  • AHP creative provision of placements award
  • AHP public health champion award
  • AHP innovation and improvement within integrated care systems award
  • Greener AHP award 
  • CAHPO award 2023
Author: Ian A McMillan
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