Reflecting on a project-based Physiotherapy placement. Rachel Kidd & Kirsty Hennen. MSc (Pre-reg) Physiotherapy students

Seated exercise; dominoes; arts and crafts; seated dance and relaxation sessions are just some of the things we got to help with during our final placement as MSc physiotherapy students. Not what you would expect for a physiotherapy student to do – you’re not alone, we did not know about this type of placement either. The placement was so much more than we realised – it was a novel project-based placement, which aimed to deliver a lasting Physiotherapy service to Braid Health and Wellbeing Centre in Livingston.

Braid is a place where people can take part in various activities and wellbeing sessions, whilst helping to tackle loneliness and receive support with the challenges of getting older. We attended the centre two days a week to get to know the clients, carers and staff, and determine what and how we could implement our physiotherapy project.

The project goal was to help improve and support the health and wellbeing needs of clients and carers within the centre. Peer assisted learning (PAL) and long arm supervision, two terms we were not familiar with, were key to the success of this 6-week placement. PAL can be thought of as “people from similar social groupings who are not professional teachers helping each other to learn and learning themselves by teaching” 1 . Whilst, long arm supervision is where students are supported on their placement, in line with professional body requirements, by a supervisor located at a distance to the clinical practice learning area.(2)

So what?
As this was our final placement, we had wanted the opportunity to have our own caseload, more hands-on experience and ensure we had enough experience for rotations. This novel placement type, was daunting as we weren’t sure what we could gain from it or how relevant it would be to our future careers. As it turned out we learned more than we could have imagined.

Our long arm supervisor was extremely organised and this preparation meant that we always knew what was expected of us and where to find the resources we required. Additionally, we were well supported and throughout the placement there were many opportunities for reflection, both individually and as a group, which allowed us to develop our skills to the
best potential.

Creating a project allowed us to develop our soft skills such as I.T., research and presentation skills; team-work; communication; organisation and time management skills. More specifically to physiotherapy we found out different attitudes, beliefs and knowledge surrounding physiotherapy from the clients and the people who care for them. This collaboration, as well as constantly asking for feedback from clients, carers, exercise instructors and staff at Braid, helped guide our project ideas and ultimately ensure the project was suitable and tailored to these stakeholders. As well as the important skills learned during the placement, we gained an understanding of how to clinically reason and think critically in a third sector organisation whilst building our knowledge of service development. This is crucial in an ever-changing health service, which we will hopefully be a part of in the near-future (3).

Now What?

This novel placement allowed us to gain insight into service development which due to the dynamic nature of the NHS and the profession of physiotherapy as a whole, means we have to constantly be able to adapt and look at different ways in which we can provide physiotherapy to different people. In doing this we can help support the NHS through the addition of physiotherapy in various settings, including in third sector organisations such as Braid.

The CSP suggest that community rehabilitation should be tailored to the individual, meet patient needs and delivered in an appropriate format, as well as being well-led and adequately resourced. We took this into account whilst creating our resources for Braid and are now more aware of how to implement physiotherapy into third sector organisations, whilst ensuring these organisations meet the recommended guidelines for their clients such as those with dementia, falls risk, Parkinson’s and stroke.


Majumder, P., 2014. Service development in the new NHS. British Journal of Healthcare Management, 20(8), pp.396-400.
Topping, K.J., 1996. The effectiveness of peer tutoring in further and higher education: A typology and review of the literature. Higher education, 32(3), pp.321-345.
NHS EMPLOYERS, 2022. Clinical placement supervision models. [viewed 09/12/22]. Available from: supervisionmodels#:~:text=Long%2Darm%20supervision%20model,support%20for%20the%20placement%20student.


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