Upon arriving in Ghana I was nervous but excited to start my placement in the physiotherapy department at the hospital. My nerves quickly dispersed due to the welcoming nature of the Ghanaian people.
Each morning, patients arrived in large numbers for prayers at the department before beginning their day in the gym. Over the course of the next four weeks, I formed close relationships with staff and patients alike.
I learned a great deal of the culture from the patients. And from the staff I gained an understanding of the role of a physiotherapist in Ghana. There was a social environment in the gym and this helped patients’ rehabilitation. This sense of community was clear during morning prayers, and carried on in the gym and throughout treatment. It created a positive and motivated department.
The experience gave me a deeper appreciation of the NHS. Due to the limited resources, staff were often stretched in their roles. At the busiest times in the gym, there were up to 20 patients to one physiotherapist. Broken equipment was rarely replaced, and simply left in a corner of the gym.
Returning from a busy day in the department, we were welcomed with lunch cooked by the catering team at the house. There were a variety of traditional dishes on offer throughout the week. Afternoons were free to relax by the pool, arrange to go to the markets or get a group together for a day trip. Typically we would be happy to relax after a hard day at the hospital, but we would often arrange trips to go surfing or to a beach resort.
The house is a very social environment and the staff are always happy to help with anything related to the hospital or the house. They also give suggestions on weekend trips as they have so much local knowledge. Trips for us involved travelling to the stilt village, Mole National Park and cape coast to visit the castle, feed crocodiles and make fabrics.
I experienced physiotherapy in a challenging and entirely different environment to what I was used to at home. It wouldn't have been possible without Work the World. The experience informed my practice and inspired me to further challenge myself by seeking further work experiences abroad.