Meet Anna Wallin, Physiotherapist – St Joseph’s Hospice

Hi my name is Anna. I’m a Physiotherapist at St Joseph’s Hospice in Hackney. I love my job, it’s always interesting and every day is different.

I moved to London from Stockholm two years ago for work. I now work at St Joseph’s hospice. We work with the boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets and Newham. The greatest appeal of working in East London is the multitude of people who live here. People come from all sorts of backgrounds and from all over the world. This is a unique community, unlike most places around the world.

Had you asked me ten years ago, working in healthcare would’ve been the last thing on my mind. I have always been interested in politics and was thinking of doing law. After working at a law firm I realised I didn’t enjoy working by a computer all day. By chance I met some third-year physiotherapy students. I still remember the conversation today. They were able to tell me things about why my body was doing certain things and explain what was going on under my skin. It was like a magic trick. I walked away wishing I had that skill. A few months later I started my bachelor degree at Karolinska Institutet in Stockholm.

I now work in Palliative Care, which means supporting people with terminal illness at the end of their life. There are a lot a misconceptions of what a hospice is and what we do here as physiotherapists. My role is to support and help people in living a fulfilling life to the best of their ability while they are under our care. Many people think that when you go to a hospice you go there to die. You come here to live, and to live a good life.

We help people manage symptoms like difficulty breathing, extreme tiredness and pain by working together with other professionals. Every day I have to be a psychologist, detective, engineer, friend as well as a physiotherapist. That makes my job so special.

With my patients and colleagues we share moments of happiness and great conquest as well as sadness and loss.

On a typical day, we run exercise and symptoms management groups that I usually lead. It is a pretty even split between patient facing work and admin which planning or evaluating care for patients. That includes helping patients formulating and finding goals that are meaningful to them. I work in a great team and my job to me has become part of my identity and it’s who I am.

Top tip
If you’re thinking of becoming a physiotherapist, nurse or doctor and want to gain incredible and meaningful experience there are ways to get that first-hand. We run volunteer based home rehab programmes focused on empowering patients. The Empowered Living Team programme is overseen by us physiotherapists. For this you don’t need any prior experience. My colleagues provide an amazing upskilling, intensive course and then support you starting to work with patients. If you enjoy working meaningfully with people and problem solving this is the best job in the world.