Diana Jagger started work at the Pump Rooms as a student in 1979 before being appointed as a physiotherapist in 1981.
[T]he physiotherapist was often on the side and a lot of the physiotherapy assistants or hydro assistants were inside the pool. Then the nice bit of the treatment, once they’d been in the water, they came out of the water and they had the fuller’s earth hot packs, packed up by the girls and they did these fantastic – they were, I don’t know, rectangular packs and if you had an ache and pain on your neck, it was on your neck or on your back or if your leg and whatever, and then you were all wrapped up, you know, properly wrapped up and then with towels and everything over you and you’d lay there to rest about twenty minutes until the pack cooled down and then you’d get up and then you’d get dressed to go home. I mean it was a fantastic experience and no wonder they kept on coming.
What did the Vortex bath involve?
Oh that was quite good fun. That was like a modern jacuzzi, it was probably the diameter of this table, which is no use on the tape, but it was a tub that spun round – well as it says, a vortex. The water, it was full of warm water. It was a warm spa water. It was about, I suppose about three foot off the ground and you were put in it, you sat in it. It was very good for things like, if somebody had had a crush ankle injury or a crush foot injury, if they’d come off a ladder and impacted, had problems with their feet or something like that or bad circulation, they’d go in this and it would, I suppose it was very much like, was the forerunner of the modern day jacuzzi and it was fantastic because it increased the circulation to the feet and it was really, I think for the people who used it, was a fantastic experience.
Did you ever use any electrical equipment?
Oh yes. Well there was, like any other physio department, physio outpatient department, there were microwaves, there were shortwaves, there were mega pulses and yes, I think they still had ultraviolet. That was sort of, when I finished training the ultraviolet treatments were sort of going out of fashion because you had to calculate the time on it. It was quite a difficult calculation to do because the actual bulbs, you had to make a calculation how long you’d actually had the bulb on for and then the next treatment was worked out, because it had I suppose a life and as it got older you needed to expose the person longer to get the same treatment. And so it was quite a complicated operation.
What did a typical day involve?
[I]t was an eight thirty start ...go in, get changed. Of course we changed in that beautiful, what used to be the Turkish bath area. If you were doing the hydrotherapy in the morning you would get dressed in your costume. Very natty blue costumes with your name, your initials, somebody I presume in the department who was good with sewing, sewn your name on your thing. You had, I don’t know, three costumes that went disgustingly half brown, because where the water level was, there was this navy blue on the top and this sort of murky colour down the bottom, it was most revolting. And we had stripy dressing gowns and we have just thrown out one of the last stripy dressing gowns from the Pump Rooms because it just finally died, down in our department. Because we must have got some of the stuff from there. But it was sort of a green and white and blue stripe and then we all had flip-flop type mules on. And you collect your patient and you go in the water with them and you do the exercise and you’d escort them out and a physio assistant would come and take them and make sure their hot packs were all done and they were all nicely wrapped up and you’d make sure that they were okay. And then you often went and had a drink and then go and get another patient. So that would go on until… then you’d probably do another one, then you’d get out and had a cup of coffee and a bit of a rest. Because the warmth – and I mean it’s the same here – it’s pretty heady stuff. It can give you quite a headache if you don’t rehydrate yourself enough, and even with the heat. And then you’d be back in the water again till lunchtime, then you’d get changed and then in the afternoon you’d have lunch… We had quite a good, I can’t remember how long, we might well have had an hour. I can’t remember but I do remember Sabin’s Sandwich Bar, used to come up, walk up the hill and there was enough time to go and get, they did fantastic rolls. I don’t know whether that’s still there either. And you used to, you’d just go up and they’d make up the roll, whatever you wanted, fantastic sandwiches. And it was, if you were in a rush you could manage to get the right the way up town because it wasn’t too bad because on the way back it was all downhill. [laughs] It was quite handy. I think we might well have had quite a long break at lunchtime. And then in the afternoon it would be seeing the patients in the afternoon and I saw probably three, if it was a reflex therapy day I’d probably see three patients in an afternoon and if it was a day when I was doing a lot of electrotherapy then I would see considerably more. You always took longer if it was a first assessment, you’d book quite a long time so you could give a proper assessment and after that when you’d made a decision what treatment… In those days the doctors used to, not knowing at all what they were doing, used to suggest or tell you what treatment they would like, even if it was totally contra-indicated to what the person had got and you would politely write back and say, well I considered that but… we are in fact doing that as it is not desperately good for them to have that. And then we finished slightly earlier because we’d started early and of course you were out before all the rush so it worked extremely well and it was very good.