Becoming one of a tiny number of businesses nationally to secure IiP Platinum status at the first time of assessment, Ariya Neuro Care is proud of its role in delivering outstanding care to ABI service users while also helping to raise the bar for health and social care workers. NR Times meets the company keen to push the boundaries of excellence
For most businesses, the thought of being assessed by independent regulators during the COVID-19 pandemic would be something that would fill them with dread – but for Ariya Neuro Care, it was something they actively sought.
And their confidence in their offering has proved to be entirely correct, with Ariya securing the Platinum award from Investors in People (IiP) at the very first time of assessment – becoming one of a handful of companies from any sector to secure such a feat.
The company, founded six years ago, operates a supported living service for ABI service users across South Yorkshire with two residential transitional services in Rotherham and Barnsley. Its community programme and seven-bed Clifton Court site in Rotherham were both rated Outstanding by CQC at the first time of assessment – but with its site in Barnsley opening in early March 2020, no inspection has been possible due to the ongoing impact and restrictions of COVID-19.
However, keen to demonstrate its unfaltering commitment to the highest standards for service users and their families, which continued despite the unprecedented challenges brought by the pandemic, Ariya invited scrutiny from IiP to independently confirm the quality of their service.
Lucy Fallon and Paul Constable, who founded Ariya after lengthy careers working in health and social care, believe their award is testament to the outstanding work of their team, whose development they continue to invest in.
“We weren’t being inspected by the CQC during the pandemic so we thought it would be good to get an external benchmark and see things we could improve on, as well as to celebrate the work of our staff,” says Lucy.
“We were absolutely committed to maintaining and improving our quality and standards, we didn’t just want to firefight. We felt if we dropped the standards during lockdown, we’d have to work even harder afterwards to pick it up.
“When we were being assessed, we were asked what we think our difference is. Anyone can say they are a good company to work for, but we really value our staff as professional people and support them as such.
“Health and social care is often undervalued but these people are behind the delivery of really amazing services and they deserve to be invested in and not to be treated as a commodity, or seen as just a number. Often, these people don’t get the respect they deserve, but health and social care is very skilled work.
“We have a really strong emphasis on our people and the development of our team, and that is what we believe has made the difference. As care providers, we all have a role to play in raising the bar.”
With an 80-strong team working across South Yorkshire both in the community and in its two residential centres, Ariya’s service sees senior clinicians working with a team of social care workers to ensure its ABI service users are supported in their ongoing rehabilitation.
For Lucy, who was inspired to establish Ariya with husband Paul after wanting more freedom from the restrictions of working in corporate care, the creation of a strong and committed team was fundamental from the start.
“We wanted to focus our energy into providing local bespoke services, starting in supported living services and then moving into transitional community rehabilitation, as there was a real need for those kind of services – and the quality of your team is absolutely vital in delivering that,” says Lucy.
“Paul and I have both worked in national jobs in corporates and we recognise the importance of valuing your team and creating the right ethos. From the start, we’ve made sure people have enough off-rota time, a lot of services are too under-resourced to do that, but we want our team to be able to do their jobs.
“The danger in health and social care is that because we talk a lot about services being under-resourced, then it’s seen as being OK to be a bit mediocre – but that shouldn’t be the case, and if you look after your people, it is absolutely possible to have an exceptional team.”
The willingness of the Ariya team to go the extra mile was highlighted during the pandemic, with everyone pulling together to deliver services as routinely as possible, as well as ensuring its new transitional rehabilitation service in Barnsley could open its doors to new clients.
“We were blessed with the timing that the building work in Barnsley was complete, it was just some of the cosmetic work like the tarmac not being entirely finished, so we could support the neuro wards in the hospitals who needed placements,” says Lucy.
“We went very quickly into lockdown after opening, and also has some of the families in our bubble so we could be sure their loved ones were as settled as possible. Our staff were very socially sensible and we were able to deliver consistency, which was down to their dedication and the sacrifices they made.
“But self-isolation did of course cause some pressure points – I remember at one point we suddenly had 22 shifts to cover, but within a couple of hours we had a plan in place to cover it. We all did our bit, we were all willing to muck in, and Paul and I did shifts along the way.
“I think because we’ve always ensured our staff weren’t doing ridiculous hours in the first place, they weren’t already on their knees when the pandemic hit, which is the situation a lot of providers faced.
“I do think we all have a role to play in raising the bar in health and social care and how staff are regarded as professionals and I’m really pleased our role in doing this has been recognised.”
Digital information boosts GPs’ support for brain injury survivors
Brain injury survivors can now access digital information from their GPs to help increase the levels of support and signposting currently available through a new partnership.
Headway has teamed up with online platform Healthinote to help GPs to give survivors and their carers and families personalised information, which is sent to them digitally after their appointments to read and digest at home.
The ‘health information prescription’ is presented through visual, immersive and interactive content, and increases both the range and accessibility of virtual resources available to people living with brain injuries.
Healthinote, which is integrated into the eConsult platform, is in use in over 1,700 GP practices nationwide and can be accessed by over 13,700 GPs.
The availability of dedicated brain injury resources from Headway, presented via the accessible and engaging channels delivered by Healthinote, is enabling GPs to increase their support to survivors and maximise use of what can be used to support patients remotely.
“We want to empower people to understand their treatment or condition and supply them with the right health information at the right time,” says Alex Merckx, director of marketing and partnerships at Cognitant, the business which developed and manages Healthinote.
“Getting accurate information into patients’ hands is very important. Consultations with your GP are very quick and there can be a lot to take in, and while they tell us not to Google things afterwards, of course we all do, and that can lead to misinformation.
“By using Healthinote, GPs can supply verified, trusted, accurate information to patients and carers, and supplement the work they do face to face. The information is saved to a patient’s electronic record, so if they go on to see a doctor or nurse afterwards, things can be more joined up and they know what resources they have had access to.
“We are trying to add value to a GP consultation and effectively maximise the customer experience that you would expect from any service, to ensure patients can go away with the information and signposting they need in a format they can understand.”
“The complex, fluctuating and often hidden effects of brain injury can make it difficult for people to get the help and support they need,” says Peter McCabe, chief executive of Headway.
“We recognise the challenges faced by GPs in not only understanding the complexities of brain injury, but also signposting survivors and carers to specialist information and services.
“Too many people slip through the net and are left to cope with impact of brain injury without help of support.
“That’s why this partnership with Healthinote is so exciting.
“It will make it easier for GPs to provide patient or carer-specific information from Headway, whether in the form of our award-winning publications or signposting to local Headway groups or branches, helping us meet our goal of ensuring no one has to deal with brain injury alone.”
A place for artistic talent and expression to thrive
The Lane Gallery, opened by Headway Derby, showcases the talents of its brain injury survivor community
A new gallery has been opened to display the artwork of people living with brain injury, after more survivors than ever before turned to art during the COVID-19 pandemic.
The Lane Gallery, in Derby, will be a dedicated forum for the many art forms created by survivors who have used creativity to communicate their personal experiences of life in lockdown.
The gallery, created by Headway Derby, was opened by artist Paul Cummins, whose creations include the world-famous Blood Swept Lands and Seas of Red at the Tower of London, which commemorated British and Colonial losses in the First World War with 888,246 ceramic poppies.
Paul has previously inspired members of the group via a virtual session through the charity’s Together from Home project, launched in March 2020, encouraging budding artists to be themselves and find an art form that flowed for them.
The Lane Gallery will exhibit art of all mediums, including abstract, watercolours, sketches, photography, creative writing, graffiti, sculpting and poetry. Initially, it will feature the work of four artists.
“Art is a pure form of communication that brings people together, whatever their background or story. This is a wonderful place where people will be able to communicate through whatever art form works for them uniquely,’ said Paul, who received an MBE in recognition of the success of his Tower of London creation.
Art is a powerful medium for brain injury survivors, and has been used by Headway Derby for the 27 years it has been in existence, and during the pandemic became a key way in which its team could connect with and support clients who were isolated in their homes.
During that period, the Headway team pivoted its entire offering to digital, accompanied by a range of practical resource boxes and materials, telephone calls, loaning devices and equipment out, and live streaming events.
By completely transforming to adopt digital, the charity was able to expand its reach of support from 48 in the previous year to over 300.
The launch of its new gallery is being delivered in collaboration with Derby Museum and Art Gallery, exhibiting work created by people whose lives have been affected by brain injury together.
It is also named in tribute to Headway Derby’s founding chair, Christine Lane, who passed away in 2020 and had remained committed to the charity until her death.
Rebecca Manship, chief executive of Headway Derby, said: “It is an absolute privilege for Headway Derby to launch this new gallery, and we are delighted to be exhibiting four local grassroots artists in its inaugural exhibition.
“It is well documented that art forms are linked with psychological health benefits, including improved mood, increased levels of well-being, reduced stress levels and less symptoms of depression.
“This resultant reduction of pressure on statutory services highlights the benefits of expressive and creative activities across the wider society we live in, and helps to increase independent living, confidence, self-esteem and self-identity of those people taking part.”
Debra Morris, chair of Headway Derby, added: “Access to exhibition opportunities for survivors of brain injury will provide a whole new dimension to the development of art.
“We see the impact arts has on the rehabilitation of our members and I am delighted that we can now provide this new facility for the wider brain injury community.”
Headway: The benefits of art therapy for brain injury patients
- Sharpen fine motor skills and visual perception. Handling paint on a paintbrush can help you gain more control of your fingers and hands, which can in turn transfer to other skills and development
- Improve concentration and attention. Art therapy, whether it involves painting, drawing, writing, or taking a pottery class, requires deep concentration and focus
- Boost problem-solving skills. Art might look easy, but it actually takes a lot of thinking, focus, planning all of which in turn help problem solving skills
- Relieve symptoms of depression and build social skills. Art therapy is proven to help combat the chemical imbalances that cause depression
- Improve self-management and self-esteem. One of the best reasons to try art therapy after brain injury is it gives you a space where for once, you are in control.
Anchor Point – increasing support for families affected by ABI
A national initiative has been launched to help increase the support, advice and resources for families affected by acquired brain injury (ABI).
Anchor Point has been created to raise awareness of the needs of families of people with a brain injury, identify their unmet needs and deliver research, information and education required to make a positive difference.
The Special Interest Group (SIG) unites professionals working in healthcare and academia across the country and has ambitious long-term plans about how to change the reality for the family support network whose lives are blown apart in the wake of a brain injury to their loved one.
Among the initiatives Anchor Point hopes to introduce are the creation of a resource of patient stories to help and inspire others, a buddy mentoring scheme for families to give peer to peer support, and the creation of an education and resource pack to collate all of the resources a family affected by ABI may need.
Anchor Point has been created by Dr Charlotte (Charlie) Whiffin, an adult nurse and senior lecturer at the University of Derby, after realising the significant gap in provision.
“I did my PhD ten years ago and looked at the family experience of head injury and realised that nothing had really changed since then. There is some very good work being done where the primary concern is the injured person, but there is a need for something where the primary interest is the family,” Dr Whiffin tells NR Times.
“It’s a really impossible situation for family members, and nothing is truly going to prepare them for their loved one being discharged from hospital, but at the minute it feels like an abyss for many of these families – it doesn’t have to be this hard. There needs to be more scaffolding around them, so instead of the freefall down the hole, there is a ladder for them to get back up.
“Over the past ten years an increasing number of studies have looked at how family members are affected by the impact of acquired brain injury and their crucial role in neurorehabilitation and long-term support. It is now well recognised that the experience of family members can be complex and enduring.
“Brain injury has a far-reaching impact on the family. The injury can be a life-long condition and for family members to provide the best possible care and support, they need access to accurate information. It is apparent that as health and social care professionals, we need to work together to pool our knowledge and experiences and improve the support available to families.”
Anchor Point is aiming to bring about change through its working groups focusing on family RIPPLES – resources, information, people, policy, life, education and support – which will bring together professionals to look at the improvements that need to be made.
“We will look around the country and find where things are being done really well, we will map the pockets of excellent practice and want to work really closely with organisations to replicate that,” says Dr Whiffin.
“We plan to grow organically and our aims will evolve every year in terms of what more we feel is needed. I’d love to create a resource to collate patient stories which cover the different types of brain injury and the different stages – the impact at one month will be very different to two years.
“It’s also love to have a mentoring scheme to create support between families, where you can have a safe space to express how you feel to someone else who understands without judgement.
While there may be other people outside of the family in the normal reliable support network, the impact of brain injury means that often doesn’t work anymore, so peer to peer support is very important.
“Our ambitions for this are really big but are staggered across a number of years. The idea originated in Derby but we now have a national focus and would love to look internationally at some point – there is very good practice in Australia and America, which is the long-term goal, and there is particularly scope for international collaboration on research.
“But for now, we are focusing our efforts here and hope to make a difference to the lives of families affected by ABI.”
Anchor Point is being supported by UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum, which is also hosting its website.
“We are delighted to work with Anchor Point to provide a much-needed service to families affected by brain injury – we know just how vital a role families can play in the on-going support and care of individuals with an acquired brain injury,” says Chloe Hayward, executive director of UKABIF.
“People can join Anchor Point via our website. Through active participation of family members and health care professionals it will create a space where people with different knowledge and experiences can connect to work together to research, contribute, inform and improve service provision.”
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