European Core Standards of Physiotherapy Practice adopted at the General Meeting 09/11 May 2002

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The World Confederation for Physical Therapy aims to improve the quality of global health care by encouraging high standards of physiotherapy education and practice. The commitment to ensuring high standards and quality of service is reflected in the Declarations of Principles and position statements (WCPT, 1995).

The World Confederation for Physical Therapy recognises the absolute importance of the development and documentation of agreed standards for the practice of physiotherapy.

At the General meeting of the European Region 2002 the Executive Committee has presented European Core Standards for Physiotherapy, developed and prepared by the Professional Issues Working group. The standards were adopted unanimously.

How have these standards been developed?

In response to the guidance from WCPT the Professional Issues working group of the European Region of WCPT considered developing a tool which provides an analysis of interaction between the individual physiotherapist of physiotherapy services in order to evaluate and promote high standards of practice.

Practice standards from several countries were reviewed and it was felt that the Core Practice Standards produced by the CSP (Chartered Society of Physiotherapy, UK) were very clear and easily adapted for use by the European Region. Permission was granted by the CSP for use of this tool.

The tool provides clear statements about the expected quality of interaction required to apply the ethical principles outlined by WCPT. The statements are broken down into criteria, which describe how the standards will be achieved. The criteria are measurable so that patients, physiotherapists and others can determine the quality of the interaction.

Who should use the Core Standards?

The Core Standards is a tool that can be used by physiotherapists, patients, members of the public, managers and others who have an interest in providing or receiving high quality physical therapy services.

The term patient is used in this document as a generic term to refer to individuals and groups of individuals who can benefit from physiotherapy intervention it includes those who may be called clients or users.

The tool includes a patient record audit, a continuing professional development audit, guidance on a peer review process, a patient feedback questionnaire and audit tool for service standards.

Who do the standards apply to?

These standards apply to all physiotherapists, whether newly qualified of highly specialist, in direct or indirect contact with patients, carers and other professional colleagues.

What is the status of these standards?

These standards are not minimum standards or standards of excellence but they are considered to be achievable. They are presented as standards that all physiotherapists should aspire to as part of their professional responsibility. The document includes 22 standards with the following headlines:

Patient Partnership

Respect for the Individual
Recognition of the patient as an individual is central to all aspects of the physiotherapeutic relationship and is demonstrated at all times.

Informed Consent
Patients are given relevant information about the proposed physiotherapy procedure, taking into account their age, emotional state and cognitive ability, to allow informed consent.

Information which the patient gives to the physiotherapist is treated in the strictest confidence.

Assessment and Treatment Cycle

In order to deliver effective physiotherapy intervention, information relating to treatment options is identified, based on the best available evidence.

Information relating to the patient and his/her presenting problem is collected.

Taking account of the patient's problems, a published, standardised, valid, reliable and responsive outcome measure is used to evaluate the change in the patient's health status.

Following information gathering and assessment, analysis will be undertaken in order to formulate a treatment plan.

Treatment Planning
A treatment plan is formulated in partnership with the patient.

The treatment plan is delivered in a way that benefits the patient.

The treatment plan is constantly evaluated to ensure that it is effective and relevant to the patient's changing circumstances and health status.

Transfer of Care/Discharge
On completion of the treatment plan, arrangements are made for the transfer of care/discharge.


Communication with patients and carers
Physiotherapists communicate effectively with patients and/or their carers/relatives.

Communication with other Professionals
Physiotherapists communicate effectively with health professionals and other relevant professionals to provide an effective and efficient service to the patient.

To facilitate patient management and satisfy legal requirements, every patient who receives physiotherapy must have a record which includes information associated with each episode of care.

Patient records are retained in accordance with existing policies and current legislation.

Promotion of a Safe Environment

Patient and physiotherapist safety
Patients are treated in an environment that is safe for patients, physiotherapists and carers.

Physiotherapists Working Alone
Physiotherapists take measures to ensure that the risks of working alone are minimised.

Equipment Safety
All equipment is safe, fit for purpose and ensures patient, carer and physiotherapist safety.

Continuing Professional Development/Lifelong Learning (CPD/LLL)

The physiotherapist assesses his/her learning needs.

The physiotherapist plans his/her CPD/LLL

The CPD/LLL plan is implemented

The physiotherapist evaluates the benefit of their CPD/LLL.