This is an Entry to the Government Best Practice Recognition Awards
Free Physical Therapy Serives
Local Government Unit of Carmen, Bohol
Best practice Focus Area(s)
Leadership, Customer and citizen focus
People With Disabilities (PWDs) need public health programs and healthcare services for the same reason anyone does – to stay well and active, to be healthy, and to be engaged as part of the community. PWDs deserve a normal life away from the criticisms of other people and to live a life wherein they can optimize their potential as a person. Having a disability does not mean a person is not healthy or that he or she cannot be healthy. PWDs also have the right to live normally as all people do.
In the Philippines, disability is one of the social issues affecting a portion of the Philippine population. Being aware of the local statistics of the PWDs, the Local Government Unit of Carmen under the leadership of Hon. Ricardo Francisco A. Toribio developed a strategy to address this problem. Hence, as part of the local government’s initiative towards the “Health and Wellness Program”, the LGU launched the “Free Physical Therapy Services” program last August 28, 2018.
As this innovation is an adoption of an existing practice of the LGU of San Miguel in the Province of Bohol, the municipality of Carmen had modified and added several features, which are as follows:
- Conduct of Culminating Activities – Culminating activities are conducted after one cycle or program implementation. One cycle is composed of 13 weekly Physical Therapy (PT) sessions. To date, the LGU has hosted 3 culminating activities already. The culminating activities serve as a means of monitoring and evaluating the effectiveness and impact of the program. During the culminating ceremonies, the recipients and beneficiaries are given time to share their testimonies with regards to the program.
- Provision of Transportation Allowance – As the LGU aspires for the sustainability and continuity of the program, the LGU provides financial assistance to cover for the transportation expenses especially to the indigent patients who have difficulty in availing the free services because of financial constraints. This mechanism is part of the ailment of the Aid-In-Crisis Situation (AICS) program of the municipality.
- Purchasing Equipment- Highlighting the need for the machine for the therapy, Mayor Toribio purchased 2 units of the machine used in physical therapy sessions. These machines were solely purchased for the benefit of the non-ambulatory clients who cannot attend the sessions.
- Conduct of Home Visits –Assessment, evaluation, and monitoring of non-ambulatory clients is done through home visits conducted by Mayor Toribio together with the Physical Therapist, the team from the Department of Health, and Rural Health Unit.
Background and Problem
As an offshoot of the LGU’s engagement with the Municipal Leadership and Governance Program in 2017, the “Free Physical Therapy Services” program of the LGU was launched. The MLGP has become the local government’s prime-mover in championing and advancing health reforms in the locality. With, of course, the active leadership of Mayor Toribio, MLGP has allowed for the LGU’s local leaders to innovate health programs to improve the local health systems of the municipality. Mayor Toribio, in one of his community engagements, has recognized that there is a dire need for rehabilitation programs for the PWDs in the locality, allowing him along with the local health board to understand their plight for restorative and rehabilitative interventions.
The urgency to provide services to the PWDs has amplified the call to action to promptly start a program to help those in need. The innovation aims to promote the ability to move, reduce pain, restore function, further prevent disability, and regain and improve the level of physical conditioning of the PWD beneficiaries with conditions that need rehabilitation services. This is realized through the provision of weekly physical therapy services.
Solution and Impact
With good health, PWDs have the freedom to work, learn, and engage actively in their families and communities. Health and wellness are not the same as the presence or absence of a disability: they are broader concepts that directly affect the quality of a person’s life experience. Good health opens the door to employment and education for persons with disabilities, just as it does for persons who do not have disabilities.
Over a billion people are estimated to live with some form of disability. This corresponds to about 15% of the world’s population. Between 110 million (2.2%) and 190 million (3.8%) people 15 years and older have significant difficulties in functioning. Based on the Philippine 2010 Census of Population and Housing, an estimated 1.51 % or 1.44 million of the Philippine population are “with a disability.”
This concern resonates with the localities, one of which is the municipality of Carmen, Bohol as there is also a notable number of PWD; some of them are in dire need of physical therapy and rehabilitation services which include strokes and other neurological problems, pain due to vehicular accidents, limitations in joints range of motion, industrial, sports, recreational and work-related injuries, as well as post-operative orthopedic cases. Consequently, these conditions limit these individuals to perform their regular ability to move and function. With many predisposing factors that may lead to further damage if such conditions are not managed or treated, the question that is likely to be asked is what local leaders intend on imposing. This has radiated a strong impulse to cultivate a sustainable solution to the known problem. A physical therapy program can help individuals return to their prior level of functioning, and encourage activities and lifestyle changes that can help prevent further injury and improve overall health and well being.
As the municipality of Carmen is experiencing the same concern, the local leaders have initiated the program as they commit to responding to the special needs of this vulnerable population. This program was conceptualized after Mayor Toribio’s deep dive activity to a PWD who needs physical therapy services. He readily considered the idea of replicating an innovation or practice addressing this health challenge, believing that other individuals also need such services. Hence, the provision of “Free Physical Therapy Services” was introduced to the municipality. He was joined by other partners and stakeholders, as they envisioned creating a liveable community that offers only the best and ideal environment for the Carmenanons.
Series of coordinated meetings with the Physical Therapist and his team, the health sector, and other concerned agencies and stakeholders were conducted before its launch. Weekly physical therapy sessions followed thereafter. It is overwhelming to note the growing demand from Carmenanons to continue the implementation of the program harvesting the acceptance from the community and a strong plea towards implementing more interventions that are rehabilitative. To this day, Mayor Toribio, the stakeholders and everyone in the community continues to dream of a healthy and well-informed community. Similarly, they look at a community wherein the PWDs feel they are a vital part of society and are not neglected by the government.
A year after the launch of the project last August 2018, more and more PWDs are starting to avail of the free physical therapy services. Numerous PWDs who have availed have testified of the remarkable practice, highlighting its big help to PWDs, especially those who cannot afford to undergo physical therapy sessions from health care institutions.
Moreover, upon knowing this best practice of the municipality of Carmen, several municipalities are already replicating the practice in their respective localities. But beyond that, the LGU looks at the sustainability of the program by ensuring that more services are incorporated in the program and that more PWDs can access and receive services. To this end, the municipality remains committed to adding more equipment necessary in the delivery of the physical therapy services most especially those that are needed for home-based physical therapy sessions.