Cupcake Decorating 2

A Physiotherapist's Journey into Hospice Care with Rosie Snow

Cupcake Decorating 2

A Physiotherapist's Journey into Hospice Care with Rosie Snow

Few of us would associate physiotherapy with hospice care.

But as the above words of senior physiotherapist Rosie Snow demonstrate, the two disciplines are closely interlinked. For physiotherapists looking to add new skills and experiences to their professional bow, working in a hospice environment can be the perfect career accelerant.

As a physiotherapist usually based in a hospital environment, Rosie admits to a few nerves when her ellenor rotation was announced. Fortunately, these didn’t last beyond her first morning.

“Ever since I arrived here, the ellenor team has been incredibly welcoming and so great to learn from. Palliative care was new to me, but ellenor is really opening my eyes to a whole other area of care.”

It’s an area Rosie is relishing, too – particularly the amount of time she’s able to spend with patients.

“In an acute hospital setting, there are often constraints on the amount of time we can dedicate to patients; it can feel a bit rushed. Here at ellenor, we have the chance to dig deeper into what truly matters to each patient – creating personalised goals and focusing on their individual aspirations.”

What might those goals look like? According to Rosie, they’re about independence – giving the patient back what a life-limiting illness so often takes away.

“They want to be able to take the burden off some of their relatives who are providing care; or they might want to resume hobbies they once enjoyed, but now can’t because of their mobility limitations.

“So as physiotherapists, we ask: What adaptations or alternatives to that activity we can work towards? And, if they’re well enough to be doing these exercises regularly, can we actually get them back to doing those things they love so much? All our exercises are designed specifically to help them in reaching their desired goals. It’s a tailored, patient-first approach.”


This goal setting, Rosie explains, is a particularly important part of physiotherapy – in a hospice setting even more so. But why?

“One word: hope. It’s vital for patients to keep believing that there’s hope, that they’re working towards something meaningful, even with the time they have left. This positive mindset can really influence their mood and positively impact their families. When families join in on goals – like doing exercises together – it gives them a sense of purpose too, making everyone feel more involved in the care.”

Through this lens, physiotherapy in a hospice setting is about empowering patients to build up their strength and mobility. To regain some of the independence a life-limiting diagnosis has stripped them of. And, in doing so, they reclaim not only their dexterity, but reclaim their dignity also.”

As for the specifics of Rosie’s role, it has many facets. She works on the ward; runs seated exercise class for patients looking to strengthen themselves and helps to facilitate discharge from the inpatient ward to the patient’s chosen destination - identifying patients’ goals early on, then working with them in the community to help them achieve those aims. Rosie is also spearheading an initiative to set up a falls prevention service to minimise and mitigate the risk of falls for patients – particularly older, and less mobile, individuals – living at home.

Rosie even hosts cupcake-decorating classes for patients: a way of combining upper limb exercises (such as twisting, folding, and rolling) into a fun, socially oriented activity. And, amid all this, she also finds time to mentor third-year Coventry University student Kirsty Partner who is gaining hands-on experience as an apprentice physiotherapist during a 6-week placement at ellenor.

Crucially, Rosie has been able to bring her prior experience in orthopaedics, neurology, and stroke rehabilitation to help her at ellenor. Her work with amputee patients and running chest clinics at Darent Valley and Queen Mary’s Hospital – which taught techniques such as breathlessness management and sputum clearance – has been useful for assisting ellenor’s patients: some of whom are living with conditions like COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease) and lung cancer.

But that education isn’t a one-way street – because Rosie is learning plenty from ellenor, too.

Chief among that new knowledge? A better understanding of what ellenor does, and how it can make a difference to the patients Rosie works with at the hospital.

“Unfortunately, ellenor hasn’t been a well-known service with our staff at Darent Valley,” says Rosie, “and a lot of people who could’ve really benefited from ellenor may have been slipping through our net. Now, I can take this knowledge back to the hospital, and make sure we’re using it to refer patients here.

Plus, the experience I’ve had working in the community here at ellenor will be invaluable: all these extra services I wasn’t even aware ellenor offered are now things I can advise my patients on.”

From this perspective, Rosie’s placement isn’t simply about learning new skills, widening her knowledge, or being able to grow as a person or a physiotherapist – it’s about building even stronger bridges between hospitals like Darent Valley and hospices like ellenor. And, in doing so, ensuring patients with life-limiting illnesses, and their families, are able to access the highest-quality care.

Rosie’s words for any clinical professionals looking to do a similar thing, then? Don’t think twice!

“Just be really open minded, and explore all opportunities, especially those in hospice care – before making any decisions. You won’t realise the benefits it can offer you, and the routes it can take you in your career, until you’ve tried it; and there are so many transferable skills you can pick up here. Give ellenor a go – it’s an extremely rewarding environment.”