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At Royal Hospital, our on-site rehabilitation doctor is backed up by a team of appropriately staffed nursing team members, including highly-skilled, caring and professional registered nurses, enrolled nurses and enrolled nursing assistants.

These professionals are assisted by a quality assurance team comprising of among others an infection prevention control practitioner and a quality assurance team member.

Our teams treat a variety of medical conditions, including Diabetes and its complications, HIV-Aids and associated opportunistic infections, TB, Pneumonia, Stroke complications, hip replacements.

Our facilities include specialised Isolation suites for patients with infectious diseases such as pulmonary TB and meningitis.

Admitting specialist doctors include physicians, dermatologists, pulmonologists, gastroenterologists, nephrologists, neurologists and rheumatologists, as well as ear-nose-throat specialists.

We work in conjunction with various allied healthcare professionals who form part of a multidisciplinary team (MDT) consisting of physiotherapists, speech therapists, psychologists, social workers, occupational therapists and dieticians.

Meet the MDT Team

Therapy Coordination is a very dynamic role, one of which is rather
administrative and requires proactive thinking and actioning. It entails the
coordination of various therapies once the patient is accepted into the
facility. In terms of qualifications, they typically possess a bachelor’s
degree in either Physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy and must have an
in-depth understanding of the patient’s diagnosis physiologically,
anatomically and clinically.

It is important to note that the MDT represents a holistic team-approach
taken by all members.

A Therapy Coordinator is hugely invested in the attendance and co-ordination
of MDT meetings whereby on a weekly basis, a plan is established for the
patient’s admission and length of stay.

A home care plan is also discussed, as well as planning for pass-outs and
aligning rehab with Goals of Therapy for each patient.
The Therapy Coordinator is responsible for supervising the rehabilitation
department to meet the therapist’s needs, thereby enabling effective therapy
and thus achieving desired outcomes.

Communication is a key factor in this role and allows for ‘smooth sailing’
from admission to discharge.

Varuna Sewmungal

Therapy Co-ordinator

Occupational therapy is responsible for the acute and chronic, physical, and cognitive rehabilitation of adults with illness, injury, or disability. Therapists aim to improve quality of life and foster hope for the client through enabling functional independence and participation in meaningful activities. Cognitive and physical rehabilitation are conducted in both individual and group therapy sessions.

Common conditions treated include:

  • Strokes
  • Head injuries
  • Spinal cord injuries
  • Dementia
  • Parkinson’s disease
  • Cardiac conditions
  • Multiple sclerosis
  • Motor neuron disease
  • Gullian-barre syndrome
  • Post joint replacements, fractures, hand injuries and other orthopaedic conditions

Furthermore, occupational therapists are involved in caregiver training, assessment and prescription of assistive devices, home visits prior to discharge when suitable, and the exploration and facilitation of ‘return to work’ options.

Occupational therapists believe that people find meaning in occupation and that by improving one’s ability to perform self-care, work and leisure activities at home, at work and within the community, can enable improved quality of life. We aim to facilitate the highest level of independence and participation in daily life through physical, cognitive and functional rehabilitation.

Speech and language Therapy

Speech Therapy is an important and relatively active section within rehabilitation services at the Hospital. It works in collaboration with other medical and allied healthcare disciplines within our valued multidisciplinary framework. Our speech therapy team manages disorders of speech, language, communication and swallowing in children and adults.

Speech therapy is focused on the prevention, diagnosis, ‘habilitation’ and rehabilitation of communication, swallowing, or other disorders. This also includes elective (optional) modification of communication behaviours through socialization and group exercises and the enhancement of communication.

The speech therapy team works with almost all medical departments within local hospitals, building an effective working relationship in a collaborative environment and ensuring continuity of care. In terms of providing specialized care, the department offers the following:

  • Speech and language delay/disorders
  • Voice and swallowing disorders (dysphagia)
  • Communication therapy
  • Patients needing assistive devices such as speaking valves or voice prosthesis
  • Augmentative and alternative communication systems
  • VitalStim therapy for dysphagia patients (uses electrical stimulation with swallowing exercises)

Our team is dynamic, and we complement each other to provide the best care possible.

The doctor’s role is vital in ensuring that Royal Hospital remains the leading Rehabilitation Hospital in KZN.

Her primary role is to ensure that all patients are medically fit to participate in physical therapy. The patients’ mental, as well as physical wellbeing is of paramount importance.  Ward rounds are done daily, and she is responsible for ensuring 24-hour cover of the hospital in case of emergencies.

Feedback is given to both the next of kin and the referring specialist so that key stakeholders are informed about the patients’ clinical state and recovery.

What is a Physiotherapist? –  Physiotherapy is the treatment of injury, disease and disorders through physical methods such as exercise, manipulation and other adjunct treatment. This means that a Physiotherapist helps people affected by injury illness or disability through movement and exercise, manual therapy, education and advice. Our purpose is to improve an individual’s quality of life by using these physical means to alleviate pain and restore function, or in the case of permanent injury or disease, to lessen the effects of any dysfunction.

Our goal – As Physiotherapists at Royal Rehabilitation Hospital is to provide you with the most effective physiotherapy treatment and rehabilitation, to get you back to your best as soon as possible. We believe in a scientific, evidence-based assessment and approach to treatment. This enables us to accurately diagnose and identify problems and individualize your care, optimizing your recovery. We work together with our Multidisciplinary Team (MDT) offering access to a wide range of healthcare professionals to provide effective treatment solutions.

At our hospital the dietitian strives to ensure that patients are consuming the necessary energy and fluid to manage underlying medical conditions and to progress in therapy – as – if a patient is not nutritionally stable, their therapeutic potential is squandered. The dietitian therefore regularly communicates with the occupational therapist and physiotherapist.

For patients who cannot eat orally, the dietitian is equipped to prescribe specialised feeds using feeding tubes as a means of feeding patients. These patients include head injury, stroke, cancer and post-operative patients – among others.

Royal Hospital prides itself on its Halaal kitchen and in-house registered dietitian. The catering staff and dietitian work together to ensure patients receive nutritious meals suited to their specific needs. These include specialised diets such as diabetic, renal, hypertensive, cardiac, gluten free, low carbohydrate, religiously specific, liquid, soft, puree and light diets – among others. Meals are individualised per patient’s preferences and consistency requirements as per discussions with the Speech therapist for consistency requirements.

Patients, caregivers and families are also educated and provided with advice, reading material and guidance on how to prepare meals and feeding methods after discharge. Obstacles regarding prevention of a balanced nutritional intake at home are identified and discussed with the social workers.

Good nutrition is imperative to optimal healing, improving overall health and wellbeing. Continuation of sound nutritional habits are emphasized and reiterated by providing follow-up out-patient dietetic services.

Regular patient specific feedback and requirements are discussed with the referring doctor, resident doctor, MDT team, case manager and nursing team.

One of the key duties of social work in this context is to facilitate communication between our patient, our therapists, doctors and the patient’s family.

Assessment of patients are conducted within 24 hours, depending on the patient. The family is often contacted, and a family session is conducted in order to obtain home and social circumstances, patient’s brief background, previous level of function and more importantly, the place of discharge and who will be the primary carer. Identification of the appropriate next of kin is done during the first session.

Social work intervention includes:

– Educating patients / families on the roles of other members of their recovery team.

– Helping patients and family members deal with the many aspects of the patient’s condition – social, financial and emotional.

– Assisting families to obtain relevant documents where Power of Attorney is applicable.

– Conducting counselling session following physical limitations depending on reason for admission.

– Families are contacted and given feedback by treating therapists, where goals of therapy and progress are discussed. Social Work chairs the meeting or gives the feedback to families telephonically.

– Providing a comprehensive psychosocial assessment of patients.

– Assisting families by providing them with caregiver/ facility information.

– Co-coordinating patient discharge and continuity of care following discharge.

– Providing families with information on external resources, i.e. SASSA disability/pension grant, Road Accident Fund (RAF) information.


The psychologist functions as an integral part of the multi-disciplinary team at the hospital.

The role of the psychologist is to assess, diagnose, manage and provide a clinical opinion about the psychological dynamics of the patient.

In all cases with regard to strokes, traumatic brain injury and spinal cord injuries to name but a few, patients experience a wide array of emotions from depression, to anxiety to neuropsychological symptoms that include confusion and personality changes.

To this regard the psychologists works to identify the best possible approach to treat the patient taking into account a holistic view, to include family and significant others that may also involve the patients’ care givers.

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