Trust is helping to train Ghanian therapists

OTs Barbara Kemp and Sarah Conner with the Ghanaian students and patient Mena Limbrick.
OTs Barbara Kemp and Sarah Conner with the Ghanaian students and patient Mena Limbrick.

A health trust is helping improve services for thousands of people in West Africa.

Northumbria Healthcare NHS Foundation Trust is working with the Ministry of Health in Ghana to introduce the first occupational therapy (OT) service in the country.

Six students, who will be among Ghana’s first occupational therapists when they graduate next year, are spending time in the trust.

They are experiencing how an OT service can help patients overcome or adapt to an illness and regain their independence with advice and the assistance of specialist equipment and adaptations for the home.

The students are working alongside experienced OTs at North Tyneside General Hospital and in the community.

Barbara Kemp, head of occupational therapy at the trust, said: “Welcoming the students to our trust has been another step towards our goal of helping to set up the first OT service in Ghana.”

“It’s been an absolute pleasure to have the students here and to show them how a well-run and established OT service can help patients get back on their feet and often regain their independence.

“The students have been surprised to see how by working as a team, and joining up care delivered in hospital and the community, patient can quickly leave hospital following major trauma, such as a stroke, with the right support in place.

“The differences between the NHS here and the health service in Ghana are stark, however, the students will be able to take valuable learning home with them to help set up an effective service and improve the quality of life for thousands of patients.

“We look forward to following their progress and returning to Ghana to attend their graduation next year, for what will be a real celebration of what has been achieved.”

Brenda Longstaff, head of international partnerships at Northumbria Healthcare, said: “Following the unparalleled success of our link with Tanzania which has delivered significant health benefits to patients, we are delighted to be working with our colleagues in Ghana.

“By sharing our skills and expertise, we are able to help set up a much-needed service which will make such a difference to people in Ghana.

“We take it for granted that should we suffer an illness or injury, support is available from the NHS to help us lead as normal a life as possible, however, in many countries that doesn’t happen and we are committed to do all we can to help.”

Peter Ndaa, course leader for occupational therapy at the University of Ghana, said: “We are indebted to Northumbria Healthcare for the vital assistance they are providing both to our students during their placements and to the wider team since the partnership began more than three years ago.”

Rosemary Doe, one of the OT students from Ghana, said: “We’re thoroughly enjoying our time in Northumbria Healthcare and it’s fantastic, having studied OT for two years, to see the service in practice.

“To be able to work in this environment has been extremely enlightening and we have all learnt so much about interacting with patients and the benefits the service can bring.

“We will return home with great enthusiasm and so many ideas and we look forward to putting them into practice.”