Life as foot expert keeps Linda on her toes
The Oban Times is running a series of articles championing the work carried out by Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership (HSCP) in the Oban, Lorn and the Isles locality. Each article features a specific service provided by the HSCP and focuses on the staff who provide that service and the role they play in making a positive difference for the people living in Oban and surrounding areas. This week we look at the work of Linda Johnstone.
Linda Johnstone is one of Argyll and Bute Health and Social Care Partnership’s podiatrists, based in Lorn and Islands Hospital in Oban.
She qualified in 2010 after completing three years of training and is registered with the Health and Care Professions Council, which is a regulatory body that maintains the register of a number of healthcare professionals. She works as part of a small team of three podiatrists and one trainee podiatry assistant, who provide podiatry services from several clinics in Oban and surrounding areas, including Tiree, Coll, Colonsay, and
Podiatrists, who were traditionally known as chiropodists, are health care professionals who have been trained to prevent, diagnose, treat and rehabilitate abnormal conditions of the feet and lower limbs. They also can help to support people to remain mobile and active, relieve pain and treat infections.
The podiatry service provides:
Nail surgery under local anaesthetic for infected, ingrown, thickened or painful nails.
Child foot health Management of the ‘at risk’ foot
Treatment of painful corns and callous
Musculoskeletal problems, including heel pain, arch pain and bunions
Orthotic therapy (lower limb custom-made ankle/foot support equipment)
Health promotion and advice on verrucae, dry skin, sweaty feet, blisters and fungal nails
The podiatrists also provide training and self-care advice for carers, patients and family members to support personal foot care needs such as toenail cutting and filing dry skin. Personal foot care training courses are available throughout the year and people interested can check they meet the criteria to sign up for the course or get further information by contacting the Podiatry Admin Support Team direct on 01631 788 977. There
is also foot care advice and video resources available on NHS Inform website www. nhsinform.scot which are intuitive and trusted clinical NHS advice and resources.
Adult foot problems occur, or can be worsened, because of poorly fitting shoes. Podiatrists can provide advice on suitable footwear. More often than not many people wear slippers at home because they are easy to put on and off, and are soft and comfortable. However, slippers do not give much support to the foot and the soles may have little cushioning. They may also lead to trips and falls around the house.
Linda said: ‘It is really important for people to check they are looking after their feet properly and this includes wearing suitable footwear to avoid slips, trips and falls.
‘There’s a variety of things we can educate patients on, including their family or carers to reduce the risk of falls. However, the reasons people fall can be complex and sometimes you’ll need the support of others.
‘Our team offers support and help to reduce risk of further injuries, and help you to continue to carry out activities that are important to you.
‘Last year there was a new telephone service launched in Argyll and Bute for people at risk of a fall or who have had a fall. By telephoning the new falls number people are directly contacting Argyll and Bute HSCP falls prevention specialists who are able to advise people where to get support in their own area. The self-referral number for falls is 01546 604050.’
‘In my job no two days are ever the same. I support lots of patients with a variety of care needs in my role, from people with ingrown toenails to musculoskeletal (MSK) problems to patients with long-term conditions such as diabetes or rheumatoid arthritis. All patients receive an initial assessment where their care plan is established. This may include a one-off treatment, an ongoing care plan for more complex cases, referral on to another specialism or referral to their GP.’
Linda never tires of the variety of conditions and finds her role really rewarding when directly treating patients. She enjoys the challenge of treating and caring for high risk patients who have chronic wounds, and sharing patients’ care with other health professionals to help keep people active and mobile.
As a team, the podiatrists recognise the importance of promoting self-care and actively educate patients so that they feel confident in their foot care at home. In 2017 Argyll and Bute podiatrists worked hand-in-hand with the technology enabled care team to develop ‘Flo’, a diabetic foot care self-management text messaging digital service which is now being used to help their patients with diabetes care for their feet.
‘Flo has been supporting patients with diabetes to self-manage between routine appointments, using her friendly text messaging persona to motivate patients to undertake daily foot checks and subsequently providing patients with foot care tips, advice and information to help them get the capability to identify if, and when, their feet need to be clinically checked and to encourage best practice in improving personal foot care.
Linda continued: ‘Flo interacts with our patients to remind them to check their feet for any change or damage, along with offering regular advice and information pertinent to their foot care.
‘We recognised that most patients use their mobile phone regularly, and so we know that Flo is in their pocket rather than a leaflet that may be looked at once or not at all. It’s also reassuring to know that Flo’s text messages are recorded on the patient’s phone enabling patients to look back on them at any time.
‘The service is a more modern way of communicating with patients and is really successful. Anybody interested in the service can contact the podiatry department to check if they meet the criteria to use the service on 01631 788977.
‘Nothing is more satisfying for me than seeing patients walk out of a clinic with less pain; feeling empowered to take ownership of their conditions with new advanced technology, advice or a new device. It really does make my job worthwhile.’
People can self-refer to the podiatry service by picking up a form from the hospital out-patients department or their local GP surgery.
Linda and her family love living in Oban. She relishes the scenery and rural lifestyle. As a family they enjoy taking part in many local community activities and she cannot imagine a better place to live and raise her children.
She also enjoys competing in Masters swimming events and has a volunteering role with the Oban Otters Swimming Club. She also takes part in the local bootcamp outdoor training to keep her fitness levels in check.
Linda and her children also enjoy taking part in Oban’s Ganavan sands Parkrun on Saturday mornings.