Michelle Morrison, Family Support Service Director, PAMIS continues the #PostureMatters theme

I sat at that Team Meeting, trying to hide the tears in my eyes as I listened to Jenny talk about the hope she had for Craig in helping his respiratory function and comfort. Craig, Jenny’s son, had profound and multiple learning disabilities and his body shape had deteriorated significantly. I had met people with a similar shape to Craig before and almost felt there was an inevitability that for people like him, that is just what happened. Despite supportive wheelchairs, side lying boards, standing frames and supportive comfy chairs, people’s shape just changed.

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But Jenny had heard something new, that someone who spends lots of time in their chair will experience shortening and tightening in their leg muscles (yep, I knew that bit) and that this will affect the way they lie (yep, I even knew that bit too) but, that being in that position night after night with gravity pushing down on unsupported legs, bodies were distorting out of shape (J. Goldsmith & L. Goldsmith, 2015)…and there was my lightbulb moment. Those hours lying in bed were key to protecting bodies. It all seemed to make so much sense, but I hadn’t been able to see that before; people’s posture needed protection 24 hours a day, every day.

And there began my pursuit of helping families experience what Jenny had heard, and the possibility of hope that other families could hear too. Sadly, it became too late for Jenny and Craig, but we could help other families, and learn from Craig’s experience. You see, for the families PAMIS had been working alongside, this was potentially life changing and life sustaining for the person they cared for. And, we discovered there was lots of great work going on across Scotland, Allied Health Professionals were trying to support families to hear the same messages. So, how could we make sure that these messages were consistent, that services were equitable, that equipment was available and that we’d see a reduction in body shape distortion?

The answer, yep, we found one…to share. Share knowledge, share passion, share challenges, share expertise and share hope. Sharing led to mutual respect, listening and acknowledging and, of course, the development of the Scottish postural care strategy, learning framework and resources Your Posture Matters. It might have taken us a while to get there, but this strategy is a collaboration of voices, experiences and expertise all with the common desire of reducing body shape distortion in people with movement difficulties across Scotland.

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