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Inpatient rehab

Dog visits help support therapy provision during pandemic



Mental health hospitals have faced significant challenges over the past 18 months, trying to find ways to keep patients engaged and motivated amidst ongoing restrictions and limited visits from friends and family.

So staff at Heatherwood Court, a forensic mental health hospital in Pontypridd, have involved their canine friends to help meet the challenge.

Service users at Heatherwood had previously enjoyed dog walking through connections with local animal shelters, but lockdowns and COVID-19 restrictions meant they had been left disappointed when they couldn’t take part in their usual activities which formed part of the hospital’s pet therapy course.

When Paul Sutton, quality and development manager at Ludlow Street Healthcare, which runs the hospital, heard about this, he offered his dog,  miniature schnauzer Daisy May, to help bridge the gap until the kennels were open again.

Paul explained: “We have found that the presence of the dogs helps service users feel more relaxed and at ease so they start to open up to us about their fears and concerns. They become far less guarded which really helps with their treatment and recovery.”

Dr Penny McCarthy, clinical associate at Ludlow Street Healthcare, also brings her two dogs, Larry and Buddy, along to sessions at the hospital.

Dr McCarthy said: “From a clinical perspective, pet therapy rapidly builds positive working relationships, establishing rapport, trust and engagement with the therapeutic pathway.

“Time spent with animals in a clinical setting can also increase motivation to recover, decrease patient anxiety levels, bring a sense of calm, reduce incidences on the ward, increase self-esteem and confidence, as well as reducing boredom and feelings of isolation, especially after the tough lockdowns we have endured over the past 16 months.

“Although pet therapy might not be for everyone, research has shown that stroking dogs and increased exercise that comes with dog ownership, also helps reduce blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health and diminish physical pain, potentially helping reduce medication required to control conditions which our mental health patients are particularly vulnerable to.”

Sarah House, operations director at Ludlow Street Healthcare, said: “Just before COVID hit we launched our co-produced Recovery College at Heatherwood. 

“With input from patients we offer courses that will promote wellbeing and rehabilitation as well as practical skill-based courses that will aid patients to successfully transition back into the community.

“Pet therapy was one of our most popular courses but had to be postponed due to COVID. Having staff bring in their own dogs has been a brilliant way of filling the gap and the patients look forward to the dog’s scheduled visits.”

Heatherwood Court is owned and run by healthcare specialists, Ludlow Street Healthcare. 

Established in 2005, Ludlow Street Healthcare has supported and cared for over 800 people. More information about Heatherwood Court and Ludlow Street Healthcare is available on their

Inpatient rehab

New brain injury hospital given go-ahead

The Disabilities Trust retains its 20-year presence in York through its new development



Plans for a new brain injury hospital are to become reality after The Disabilities Trust secured approval for the project, which will maintain a vital service in Yorkshire. 

For over 20 years, the charity has operated York House in the city of York, but was forced to look elsewhere due to the closure of the site. 

After a lengthy search, The Disabilities Trust has chosen its new site, south of The Residence at the city’s Chocolate Works development, and construction is now able to begin to create the 36-bed purpose-built facility. 

The four-ward hospital, which retains around 145 healthcare jobs in the city, will be dedicated to acquired brain injury rehabilitation and will also include four assessment flats and a therapeutic garden. 

The new centre will add further to the charity’s brain injury inpatient portfolio, which extends across England, Scotland and Wales, in addition to its community and supported living services. 

“We are delighted to have received planning permission which will allow us to continue our presence in York after more than 20 years of service,” said Bill Chidgey, director of corporate services at The Disabilities Trust.

“This development will enable us to provide the people we support with the highest quality of facilities, to aid and support them in their treatment and rehabilitation.   

“We’re proud to call York our home and are looking forward to building strong ties with local residents and our new neighbours. Throughout this process our priority has been to retain our workforce and provide long-term assurances to the people we support and their families. 

“Now our plans have been approved we can look forward to our future in York.”

Tom Wheldon, director and head of region at HBD, said: “We’re pleased to have been able to partner with The Disabilities Trust to bring forward this new facility – it will bring huge benefit to so many people and retains a vital mental health service for York.

“We’ve worked closely with the local community to create a scheme that is both considerate of its surroundings and incorporates high quality facilities for the benefit of service users and staff.”

The planning application to City of York Council was submitted in July following a public consultation, and the project will be completed in partnership with development company HBD. 

The project team supporting the scheme includes planning and heritage consultant JLL, principle architect Jefferson Sheard, and specialist landscape architect, re-form landscape architecture.

The development will also include 50 car parking spaces, bicycle racks and additional landscaping adjacent to the Peace Garden. The building will aim to achieve BREEAM Excellent rating, a 28 per cent reduction in carbon emissions in line with Council objectives, and include a green sedum roof.

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Inpatient rehab

‘The challenges are ongoing, but our resilience is getting us through’

Chase Park Neuro Centre discusses the challenges faced by care providers and how ongoing investment is enabling it to look forward with confidence



A specialist neurological care centre has highlighted the impact of the compulsory COVID-19 vaccination policy for staff as the latest in a series of major challenges for the sector to deal with during the pandemic. 

During one of the most challenging periods for healthcare in living memory, care has been particularly adversely affected, with the loss of staff through the introduction of rules around vaccination being the latest storm for providers to weather. 

Chase Park Neuro Centre has said it, like many other specialist care centres, has lost staff as a result of the new Government-led policy – exacerbating the social care recruitment crisis further – but its team has pulled more tightly together as a result, to continue to deliver the best possible care to its residents. 

“Much of the industry is reacting quite furiously to the Government making COVID vaccination among care homes staff compulsory, because we are the only industry that has been mandated to have all staff double vaccinated by November 11, otherwise, staff will lose their jobs,” says Paul Smith, director of operations at Chase Park, in Whickham, Gateshead. 

“Whatever the rights and wrongs of such policy, we are in a situation whereby people who may have been with a company for many, many years are going to have to be let go, or redeployed to an off-site service, and most care homes simply can’t do that.

“Luckily, across our dedicated staff group, there is only one person who has declined the vaccine.

“Of course, in tandem, what we’ve also got is a population that is tired, a population that is concerned about facing a fourth wave and future restrictions, but as a positive we have a workforce who has come through all of that. 

“At the end of the day, as tiring and as stressful as it has been, we have more resilient and committed staff at the end of it and that’s a strong position to hold.”

Chase Park, a 60-bed care home which provides rehabilitation services to people with neurological and long-term nursing conditions and more recently opened a villa for people living with dementia, has been running at 50 per cent capacity throughout the whole of the pandemic. 

A voluntary decision was made in March 2020 to close one of the two main buildings as some of the residents were highly vulnerable. They have since begun to safely reopen the closed unit with four residents already in situ at the site. 

For operators such as Chase Park and the teams working within the businesses, the impact of the pandemic physically, mentally and financially has also been significant, says Paul. 

“Although there has been some Government support in terms of COVID funding, that has mainly only been for PPE and testing,” he says.

“The testing regime itself has been a huge strain on managers and care, combined with the quarantine of up to 14 days. 

“I don’t think any care home, or any provider, is coming out of this in a healthy state, either the kind of physical and mental health of the teams and the managers in particular, but also on the financial side. 

“We are all trying to dig ourselves out of a very large COVID hole at the moment, but we have chosen a particularly proactive means to do this.”

Throughout the pandemic, Chase Park has continued to invest heavily into its facilities and offering. 

Under the ownership of Dr Niraj Brahmabhatt, Chase Park – a nurse-run service owned by medical practitioners, with management from clinical backgrounds – has strengthened its management team and appointed two non-clinical deputies through internal promotions to support the centre manager, Jane Webber. 

As well as refreshing its therapy team, it also has a new physiotherapist joining and will have both a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist on-site.

Chase Park has also invested heavily in digital technology and rehabilitation technology, including the implementation of a Tyrostation. It has introduced PCS, a person-centered software e-care plan system, as well as the Croner-I governance support system. It has also taken out a subscription with the Royal Marsden for staff to access vital clinical resource support anytime. 

Reflecting on the development of the centre and its team, director Dr Brahmabhatt says: “We continue to invest in Chase Park and our staff. We focus heavily on our culture and progression. 

“We want our staff to feel supported and confident in what they do. We run a staff satisfaction survey every six months as well as a service user satisfaction survey and incentives such as ‘employee of the month’. 

“With several staff starting their careers with us as carers and progressing to team lead and non-clinical deputies, we are committed to creating a culture of continuous learning.”  

Centre manager Jane adds: “Chase Park is very special and one big family. We believe in developing people, and they really do count every single day. 

“We currently have seven new recruits coming on board, we’ve also had an influx of nurses and we are now looking at tier two applications. If anyone is considering a career in care, we would encourage them to give us a call to find out more, our door is always open.”

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Inpatient rehab

QEF appeal hits £1million milestone

The disability charity’s £2.7million fundraising drive is to complete and fully fund its Care and Rehabilitation Centre



A charity has reached the £1million milestone in its three-year fundraising appeal to complete and fully fund its state-of-the-art Care and Rehabilitation Centre. 

Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People (QEF) launched its Edward Guinness Appeal to raise the final £2.7 million needed for its centre of neuro rehabilitation expertise, supporting people to rebuild their lives after a stroke, acquired brain injury, incomplete spinal injury or neurological illness.

Over the last 22 months the charity, based in Leatherhead, has had support from individuals and the local community who responded to the appeal and took part in a variety of fundraising activities. 

Marisa Goldsborough, head of philanthropy at Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People, said: “This is such wonderful news to be able to share with everyone. The last 18 months have been tough for many charities including QEF, so we are delighted to have achieved this milestone and are so grateful for the generosity of everyone who has supported us so far.

“We still have a long way to go to reach the final £2.7m needed but this has given us a real boost. 

“The funds raised through The Edward Guinness Appeal are vital to fully funding the Care and Rehabilitation Centre and supporting people when they need our expertise most to rebuild their lives after a traumatic event such as a stroke. 

“We also want to ensure items like additional lifts and automatic doors can be added to the building and we can install accessible technology throughout such as eye gaze technology, sensory zones in the gardens and provide additional therapy equipment.”

The Care and Rehabilitation Centre is a £15million development that was opened by HRH The Countess of Wessex in June and has played an important role in supporting the NHS in South East England throughout the pandemic. 

The charity launched the Appeal in November 2019 to raise the final £2.7m needed to complete and fully fund this landmark development, which puts QEF at the forefront of neurorehabilitation. 

The centre, recently rated as ‘Good’ by the CQC, can support up to 48 people at a time, providing integrated and person-centred neurorehabilitation and nursing care under one roof. 

The facilities have been designed to meet the needs of clients, including large ensuite bedrooms each with tracking hoists, a state-of-the-art therapy gym and adaptable therapy rooms, multi-purpose recreational rooms and informal social areas and large, spacious dining rooms.

The charity has a series of unique fundraising events planned over the next 12 months to raise the final total needed, including:
– The Guinness and Oyster Luncheon on November 25 at Mansion House,
– Magical Christmas at Lambeth Palace on December 2
– The ‘Best of British Wine’ tasting event on February 1, 2022
– Rugby Legends Gala Dinner on March 3, 2022.

Find out more about the appeal and how you can get involved at

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