Pablo lights a path to universal access to rehabilitation

The agency has joined forces with rehabilitation nurse Kate Tantam to launch an emotive new campaign

Nicola Kemp

Editorial Director Creativebrief


Rehabilitation is not a niche issue.

Statistically, the majority of people reading this article will need to access rehabilitation at some point in their lives. From the 1 in 2 people who will get cancer, to those who will experience accidents, strokes or the simple privilege of ageing, these things all come hand in hand with a need to access rehabilitation support. Yet the uncomfortable truth remains that access to such support is a postcode lottery and there is currently no guaranteed access to this vital care.

It is a cruel state of play which is highlighted by a powerful new campaign from Pablo and intensive care rehabilitation nurse, Kate Tantam. The campaign, which is being supported by Former Top Gear Presenter and Rehab Patient Richard Hammond, launches today (19th February).

To highlight just how important rehab is and to help end this postcode lottery, the Pablo team travelled to rehab centres, hospitals and intensive care units in Plymouth. Here they documented a series of ‘patient firsts’ that were only possible thanks to rehabilitation. These ‘firsts’ include the first tentative footsteps or first halting words; monumental milestones for those lucky enough to receive specialist rehabilitation care.

Starting with ‘first steps', the patients’ feet were painted with safe, non-slip paint and their very first footsteps since their hospitalisation were captured on sheets of vinyl. These real footprints form the basis of an outdoor campaign across the UK.

In a digital radio advert, a patient whose accident left them unable to speak uses their faltering first words post-rehab to appeal to the public to support the campaign. The radio features voiceover and a call to action by Richard Hammond who relied on rehab to get back on his feet after a crash whilst filming Top Gear in 2006.

At the heart of the campaign lies the lived experiences of people who have needed rehabilitation. Pablo worked with patients such as Paul, who suffered a motorbike accident that fractured his vertebrae, leaving him unable to walk, Adrian, whose sore toe led to leg amputation and Jo, a lover of the outdoors, who suffered a paralysing stroke while walking in the countryside.

The campaign is supported by more than 20 healthcare charities, royal colleges and professional bodies such as the Chartered Society of Physiotherapy (CSP), the British Geriatric Society, Asthma+Lung UK and the Stroke Association which are all members of the Community Rehabilitation Alliance.

The campaign directs people to, where they can sign a petition calling for rehab to be made available everywhere and for a named rehab lead to be appointed on every hospital trust and board in the UK.

Dan Watts, Executive Creative Director at Pablo, said: “With one in two people expected to get cancer in their lifetime and one in six expected to suffer a stroke, more and more people are requiring rehab services. Far from being a niche issue, it affects us all, and it is a humbling experience to see the huge impact specialist rehabilitation experts like Kate can make. We hope people will see the campaign and sign the petition calling upon the Government to make rehab more universally available and a rehab representative to be appointed at every single hospital".

Kate Tantam, ICU Rehabilitation  Nurse and Founder of #RehabLegend added: “Rehabilitation gets our patients back to the people and things that they love. Their goals might not seem big – to hold their grandson, to make a cup of tea, to go to the loo on their own, to say ‘I love you’ - but they are mountains to climb if you can’t move your arms or legs or have lost the power of speech. Rehabilitation gives people back the lives they have lost. I hope this campaign helps persuade NHS leaders across the UK to provide much needed rehab services".

Actor Stephen Fry who needed rehabilitation after breaking his leg, pelvis and several ribs in a fall from a stage at the O2 is supporting the campaign. He explained: “I had a very nasty fall from a 6ft high stage onto concrete. The orthopaedic surgeon warned me that people who had fallen from lesser heights had never walked again. I am one of the lucky ones and I am feeling whole and healed thanks to good physiotherapy. I feel very lucky to be able to walk again which is why I’m supporting this campaign to make rehabilitation services available no matter where you live. Rehabilitation is just as important as medicine and surgery in helping people reclaim their lives after injury, illness or because of long-term conditions.”

He continued: “Everyone deserves access to rehabilitation and I back this campaign to have rehab reps in every hospital to ensure everyone gets the right help at the right time”.

The billboards are live in seven cities throughout the UK and the digital radio ads are being played nationwide. Some of the outdoor sites were donated by Jack Arts, while digital radio airtime was secured by YOU Agency.

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