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With a 47-year career dedicated to supporting patients through brain and spinal cord injury (SCI), Advanced Physiotherapist Carey Bayliss has seen the PA Hospital’s Spinal Injuries Unit (SIU) through four decades of growth and sealed her reputation as a leader in SCI rehabilitation both locally and internationally.
One of PAH’s most experienced physiotherapists, Carey has contributed extensively to service delivery, research, mentorship, various specialty committees and networks, as well as pioneering the development and expansion of the SIU’s inpatient and outpatient services over the years.
After launching her PAH career at the old hospital in 1976, Carey spent some time abroad before returning to PAH in 1981, where her early career experience at the Brain Injury Unit (BIU) ignited her passion for complex case management and led her to the-then spinal injury service S7 and S8. It was there she found her purpose in supporting patients through SCI rehabilitation.
“This is an area that gets you hooked. Once you develop a passion for working with people with spinal cord injury, you never stray far from the service,” she said.
Carey has led some of the spinal rehabilitation service’s biggest programs, with the establishment of the community outreach program, SPOT (Spinal Outreach Team) marking one of her foremost career achievements.
“I was instrumental in the development of SPOT when I worked here as a senior physio. We didn’t have any community services at the time, so we had to do it all,” she said.
“I put together a submission, along with the Senior OT Glenda Price and the Senior Social Worker Pat Dorset, for funding through the Commonwealth Ambulatory Care Reform Package at the time, resulting in an initial 24 months of funding to launch SPOT in 1995. The service kept growing until it was eventually fully funded by Queensland Health.”
The only service of its kind in Australia, SPOT is now a major component of SCI care offered through the Queensland Spinal Cord Injuries Service based at PAH, and has garnered international recognition for its success. But for Carey, improving patient outcomes has brought her the greatest fulfilment throughout her career.
“Developing SPOT was something I’ve always been quite proud of, and I always wanted to work within the service, so eventually I transitioned across from inpatient to community care. I really enjoy travelling around the state and meeting so many new people,” she said.
“We get a lot of positive feedback in SPOT. You see people trying to find solutions to a problem, and then you help them solve it, helping them achieve the goals they want to achieve. The clients themselves are just amazing when you see what they can achieve when they’re back into life at home and doing everything they want to do.”
Witnessing the SIU’s evolution first-hand over the decades, Carey credits the service’s expansion to the dedication and capability of its people, and looks to the future of the service with optimism.
“It’s been inspiring and a real pleasure to meet people who share my passion for assisting a person with SCI in developing their independence,” she said.
“I really like PA Hospital particularly because it’s the central hub for SCI rehab in Queensland. There are so many experienced people in the system here, and it will just go from strength to strength.
“There have been many big changes in the technology and equipment we use and prescribe. When I was a team leader here, we were only scripting two types of wheelchairs. Now, people have a choice of whatever they want from all over the world. We’ve changed a lot about how we support people, using research to guide us to best practice care.”
Carey’s outstanding contribution to the field of SCI rehabilitation physiotherapy has been honoured with a nomination for the Excellence in Leadership Award at the Metro South Health Awards.
Congratulations on this wonderful achievement Carey, and thank you for your exceptional contribution to furthering SCI services at PAH and throughout Queensland.