A Royal Air Force veteran who sustained a significant brain injury and overcame “testing hurdles” on the road to recovery is now making strong progress with the unwavering support of his son.
Herbert Martin, an 85-year-old from Littleport, near Ely, sustained a brain injury following a fall in October 2020 and went on to make a remarkable recovery – highlighting the rapid progression specialist rehab therapy can offer.
A former RAF serviceman of 12 years, which included deployments to Cyprus, Australia, Pakistan and Singapore, Herbert was admitted to Askham Rehab on New Year’s Eve 2020 after suffering a subarachnoid haemorrhage that caused a bleed between his brain and skull.
The severity of the injury left Herbert extremely fatigued and resulted in muscle weakness that restricted his mobility. His condition upon arrival at Askham was so critical it was initially feared he wouldn’t recover enough to return home and live independently.
However, due to his extraordinary response to treatment from Askham’s multidisciplinary team of therapists, and the inspiring support from his son, Paul, and two grandchildren, Herbert is almost at a stage where he can return home.
Sara Neaves, clinical lead and outpatients service manager at Askham Rehab, says: “When Herbert first came to us, he was incredibly weak. This made any initial progress extremely challenging.
“He was assessed by our teams of clinical psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, and speech and language therapists, before SMART (Specific, Measurable, Achievable, Realistic, Time-based) goals were set to aid his recovery.
“To begin getting Herbert back on his feet, we began to build his strength and stamina up through various therapy exercises and activities, such as baking and cooking. Eventually, he progressed enough to be able to use our hydrotherapy pool where he could benefit from the many qualities of exercising in water.
“In a short space of time, he was then able to push himself further in our state-of-the-art robotic suite, where he used Tyromotion’s MYRO table, a sensor-based surface with interactive applications, to work on his standing balance and weight transference, whilst challenging his upper limb coordination. He also used the OMEGO Plus, a multifunctional chair enabling specific training of functional therapy goals, to build on his range of movement and strength.”
With the initial belief that it was unlikely Herbert would be able to return home and that another setting would be more suitable for him due to the severity of his condition, he surpassed everyone’s expectations during the early stages of his rehabilitation, maintaining an outstanding level of engagement in his therapy sessions.
One key driver for this was the support of his son, who has been motivating him every day throughout his stay at Askham, playing an integral role in his father’s recovery.
Paul’s encouragement enabled Herbert to push himself to perform functional tasks and overcome challenges to slowly regain his independence. Herbert went from standing at a work surface to standing with parallel bars, and finally taking independent steps with a rollator walking frame, which he was determined to achieve.
Sara continues: “Herbert’s main goal is to get back home. To facilitate this, our occupational therapy team completed a home assessment where they have been making adaptations to enable him to be as fully independent as possible.
“Today, he can now mobilise completely independently with a rollator. It was only a few months ago we feared informing his son that he wouldn’t be able to return home, so to see Herbert nearing a point where he can live a completely independent and happy life is nothing short of amazing.
“His remarkable progress is also due to the wonderful relationship he has with his son. The bond they have is really special and has been monumental in Herbert overcoming so many testing hurdles. It’s enabled him to maintain motivation to progress whilst allowing us to establish an effective working relationship with his family, which has allowed us to facilitate Herbert as coherently and effectively as possible.”
Herbert says: “I have a lovely relationship with my son, Paul. Every night we talk to each other without fail and he has been looking after my bungalow during my rehabilitation. The Askham Rehab team have been excellent. Everyone is so friendly and helpful, and I can’t thank them enough.”
Aliyyah-Begum Nasser, director at Askham, adds: “Our ethos is all about maintaining a person-centred approach. We put the patient at the core of our practices and empower them with the tools to oversee their journey with us their own way. We’re delighted Herbert has reached a stage where he can almost return home and live independently.”
Therapy sees reduction in medication
A specialist hospital which focuses on evidence-based treatment focus has reported a reduction in its use of anti-psychotic medication for 40 per cent of its new patients over the past 12 months.
St Peter’s Hospital in Newport, which is owned and run by specialist healthcare provider Ludlow Street Healthcare, offers assessment, treatment and rehabilitation for men and women with complex neuropsychiatric conditions, including dementia, Huntington’s Disease and Acquired Brain Injuries (ABI).
The hospital, which offers 51 beds across single-gender units, is committed to reducing patients’ reliance on drugs by introducing them to a wide range of non-pharmacological therapies.
St Peter’s uses an onsite multi-disciplinary team including psychologists, psychiatrists and an extensive group of therapists including dietetics, physiotherapy and speech and language specialists. Its treatments include life stories work and reminiscence therapy, music therapy and pet therapy.
Dr Kumi Pillay, consultant psychiatrist at St Peter’s, says: “Our objective is to tailor a bespoke treatment plan which aims to reduce distress, promote independence and reduces the risks patients pose to themselves and others, while simultaneously lessening the need for medication which could bring with it further complications.
“Many of our patients have physical co-morbidities (such as diabetes, hypertension) and as a consequence, the medication that is used to manage behaviours that challenge, could pose a risk to physical health if not prescribed cautiously and under expert supervision.
“We aim to tailor our non-pharmacological therapies in accordance with an individual’s needs. We don’t try and fit the patient to the therapies on offer, it’s the other way round. There are plenty of interventions out there but if they’re not meaningful to the person, they won’t have the impact we desire.
“Non-pharmacological interventions count for much of our success with patients. Reducing the use of antipsychotic drugs can have a myriad of benefits including reducing risk of falls, improving people’s general well-being, improvement in appetite, and better mobility.
“We are constantly reviewing our approach and assessing what does work and what doesn’t. We are always ready to change things, adhering to the necessary evidence base as we go.”
Sarah House, operations director, adds: “Our journey with a patient starts before the patient even arrives. At the point of referral, we will do a complete pre-admission assessment where we speak to the family, the current care provider and the patient themselves to get a full picture of who the person was before their illness.
“Building up this picture of the person is so important because when we are presented with a patient, we can see the symptoms which are causing the challenge, but we need to know what life was like before and what they valued to be able to design treatments that will work for the individual.
“Our team works extremely hard to cut down patients’ medication requirements and to see such a marked reduction within such a short period is testament to the success of their approach.”
St Peter’s recently underwent a significant programme of investment which involved the creation of an additional 12 ensuite rooms, a new family room and modern communal area to ensure the hospital’s patient offering remains second-to-none.
St Peter’s Hospital is owned and run by healthcare specialists, Ludlow Street Healthcare. Established in 2005, the specialist provider has supported and cared for over 800 people.
‘Care home of the future’ to open
A new dementia residential facility, hailed as a ’care home of the future’, is set to open its doors later this year.
Vida Court has been designed to optimise wellbeing potential for residents, and facilities include a 12-seater cinema, convenience store, hair salon, florist and coffee shop.
The home, in the hamlet of Harlow Carr on the outskirts of Harrogate, has also taken design inspiration from the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, with each bedroom having a large glass window and every house within the home having a garden room to ensure good ventilation. Air exchange has been included to ensure clean air constantly flows throughout the building.
Vida Court – which will have capacity for 100 residents – also makes use of the latest technology with sensory TV, windows, walls and artwork giving residents opportunities to interact with different environments and stimulate memories and positive behaviours.
Circadian lighting has also been installed to help residents prepare naturally for sleep and waking to maintain a regular routine, and a continuous walkway has been incorporated into the design of every house within Vida Court to enable residents to move freely throughout their home.
The home, from specialist dementia care provider Vida Healthcare, is set to welcome residents in November.
The 68,000sq ft home will create over 200 jobs in North Yorkshire.
James Rycroft, managing director at Vida Healthcare, says: “At Vida, we’re committed to delivering the highest quality care to people living with dementia from across the UK and beyond.
“We hope that Vida Court, which integrates the most cutting-edge facilities and technology, will end the perception of care homes as a last resort.
“We’re really looking forward to welcoming our new staff members and residents to our home of the future and leading the way in care delivery to some of our most vulnerable people.
“We hope that as more care home operators develop cutting-edge care homes, the UK will become the global leader for high quality care for people with chronic conditions and the elderly.”
Vida Court has been designed by specialist interior designer, Nanu Soda, and built by Caddick Construction.
Alongside providing people living with dementia with specialist environments and care, Vida Healthcare also ensures that its staff are supported with a bespoke professional development training pathway.
James adds: “We believe that our staff are the lifeblood of Vida Healthcare and it’s essential that we continue to support them.
“The 200 new staff members who will be working at Vida Court will have access to the best training and development, which we provide in partnership with Vida Academy.
“This promotes lifelong learning across our homes and establishes our staff as true dementia ambassadors.”
New £5m care home opens
A new £5million state-of-the-art specialist care home has been opened by Exemplar Health Care.
Wykewood has been opened in Wyke, Bradford, and is the first care home opened in the area by Exemplar Health Care, which provides specialist nursing care for adults living with complex needs.
The home will support up to 40 adults and specialise in supporting people living with complex mental health needs, neuro-disabilities, brain injuries, spinal injuries, Huntington’s disease and complex dementia.
Exemplar Health Care supports some of the most complex and acute individuals, who would often be in a hospital setting if not placed with them, enabling them to stay in the community and reducing hospital and secure facility admission.
Specialist nursing care for adults living with neuro-disabilities
Wykewood has the facilities to provide specialist nursing care for people living with a neuro-disability or neurodegenerative disorder.
The home has 40 large bedrooms, each with an en-suite, across four ten-bed units. This small group living provides a homely and supportive environment, which is more responsive to people’s needs – including the Thistle Suite which is a male-only environment.
The home includes the Lavender Suite, which supports up to ten adults living with complex health needs and mixed diagnoses, including neuro-disabilities, brain injuries, physical disabilities and those who have tracheostomies, ventilators and PEG feeding.
Being on the ground floor and with garden access rooms, it’s ideal for those living with Huntington’s Disease.
The service also benefits from communal dining and living spaces as well as a cafe, therapy room, sensory room, salon and a large accessible garden.
Wykewood provides a supportive environment where people can receive the specialist nursing care that they need and remain closer to their loved ones.
The home hosts a restaurant-style dining menu which is developed with service users at quarterly Food Forums. This ensures that menus are varied, interesting and available to everyone, taking into account personal preferences, condition-specific and religious dietary requirements.
“It is extremely rewarding to be able to support 40 local people with complex health needs”
Sharon Burton, the Commissioning Director of Wykewood, shares: “I’m delighted and proud that Wykewood will support Wyke’s community. We at Exemplar Health Care know the Bradford area well, having two fantastic, high-quality homes already in Leeds. We’ve also closely consulted with local Clinical Commissioning Groups and the council to understand the keen demand for a specialist care service like Wykewood in the area.”
“It is extremely rewarding to be able to support 40 local people with complex health needs, and to provide over 150 stable and local jobs for those wanting to progress their careers,” she added.
Holistic care in a community-based home
Exemplar Health Care’s holistic approach to care ensures that people get the right care, at the right time and by the right team, the first time round.
They work with individuals, their loved ones and professionals to decide how they want to live, and design a care plan that’s individually tailored to their needs and goals.
Wykewood has a dedicated and a trained team of Registered Nurses, Health Care Assistants, Life Skills Coordinators and Therapists, including Physiotherapists and Occupational Therapists.
The home’s high staffing levels enable the team to work at people’s own pace and build trust, which leads to improved person-centred and longer-term outcomes.
The home will also have access to Exemplar Health Care’s central clinical team, Consultant Psychiatrist and Behaviour Support Specialists.
This enables people to access holistic care in a community-based home that’s closer to their friends and family.
About Exemplar Health Care
Exemplar Health Care is a leading provider of specialist nursing care for adults living with a range of complex and high acuity needs.
They have 34 specialist nursing homes and OneCare services which provide person-centred care and rehabilitation that focuses on maximising independence, building everyday living skills and empowering people to live as fulfilled lives as possible.
They support people on their journey from being in hospital or living in a secure setting to community-based living, as well as offering longer term support for people living with degenerative or life-limiting illnesses.
Find your local Exemplar Health Care home and get in touch to discuss your complex care placement needs.
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