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Mother-of-three discharged home for Mother’s Day

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Hayley Trotman was diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome after being in a coma for eight days

A mother-of-three who was left only able to move a couple of her fingers after being struck by a rare neurological condition has been discharged from a specialist rehab centre in time for Mother’s Day – even managing to walk independently through the front door of her home.

Hayley Trotman had been in an induced coma for eight days after being diagnosed with Guillain-Barré syndrome (GBS). She spent three months in intensive care, where she had stopped breathing twice and had to be mechanically ventilated with a tracheostomy.

The 44-year-old was left unable to move her body, save for a couple of fingers, and was in excruciating pain through GBS, a life-threatening condition that attacks the nerves which Hayley is believed to have contracted through a common cold.

To support her recovery, Hayley was admitted to Askham Rehab, a specialist neuro rehab community, near Doddington, from an acute trust last November.

Due to the severity of her condition, she needed specialist treatment from all of the disciplines at Askham – clinical psychology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy.

Following assessments, the multidisciplinary team set SMART (Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Relevant, and Time-Bound) goals for Hayley, who was then subsequently prescribed to a treatment programme specific to her needs.

“When Hayley first came to Askham, there were a lot of issues around her pain,” recalls Sara Neaves, clinical lead and outpatient service manager at Askham Rehab.

“Just pulling back her bedsheets caused extreme pain, and this required a lot of input from our medical and clinical psychology teams to help stabilise.

“I remember Hayley saying to me, ‘I’m so scared I will never be able to walk again’. I promised her she would, but we knew it was going to be a long road to recovery.”

Once her pain had stabilised, Hayley was able to make use of Askham Rehab’s new robotics and sensor-assisted technology, with the centre being one of a very small number of providers in the UK to offer a specialist robotic-led rehabilitation service.

Using Tyromotion’s OMEGO Plus, a multifunctional chair enabling specific training of functional therapy goals, Hayley was able to challenge her lower limbs in strength, movement, accuracy, and coordination.

To help with upper limb movement, Hayley made use of the MYRO table, a sensor-based surface with interactive applications, the AMADEO, a robotics and sensor-based device for hand therapy, and the PABLO, a sensor-based rehab device for unilateral and bilateral training.

Empowered with the state-of-the-art equipment, along with sessions in the hydrotherapy pool and sensory rooms and gardens, therapists were able to improve Hayley’s condition drastically in just a matter of weeks, to the point where she was able to walk again with assistance.

Continuing with the activities the multidisciplinary team put together for her as a weekly timetable, Hayley was soon able to live independently in a self-contained, fully adapted on-site apartment.

Using the space to build back her confidence through independently cooking, walking and making use of the abundant gardens and grounds, Hayley was given a departure date of March 11 – being able to fulfil her ultimate goal of arriving home to her children and husband in time for Mother’s Day.

Reflecting on Hayley’s journey, Sara says: “From someone who could only move their fingers when they first arrived, Hayley has progressed incredibly well.

Askham’s ethos is all about empowering and caring for the individual, making their journey very much patient centred. The environment here is friendly and open – we could tap into Hayley’s hobby of being out in the garden which helped lift her mood and fully engaged her in the rehab process.”

Hayley reflects: “I was terrified when I came out of ICU but upon my arrival to Askham, I was reassured that everything was going to be OK and that I would return home to my family.

“My most memorable milestone was when I first used the rollator to walk. I thought I was going to hit the deck, but the team at Askham encouraged me to do it and I ended up walking down the corridor – it was fantastic.

“They even videoed the moment and sent it to my husband and children.

“During my stay, I started a journal so I could reflect on my journey and note my progress. Each day, I wrote down advice from the team and used it as motivation.

“Their words helped me move forward and have stayed with me to this day. I’ve been supported in every step of my journey and will be forever grateful for everything the team at Askham did for me.

“I’ve got so many things on my bucket list now. One of the first things I want to do is jump out of a plane to raise funds for GBS.”

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Flu vaccinations to become compulsory for care staff?

Plans to introduce mandatory flu jabs could be “one step too far” for an already under-pressure sector, leaders warn

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The introduction of compulsory flu vaccinations for care home staff could be “one step too far” for a sector already battling a recruitment crisis amidst the ongoing impact of COVID-19, leading professionals in the industry have told NR Times. 

The Government is currently consulting with key bodies in health and social care over whether to introduce a statutory requirement for vaccination against flu as a condition of employment for frontline workers. 

This follows the move to make COVID-19 double vaccination compulsory, which some forecasters predict could see up to 30 per cent of social care workers leave their roles in a sector already struggling to meet the soaring demand for its services, with an existing and growing shortfall of at least 80,000 staff nationally.

The consultation, which concludes next week, is likely to be met with “fury and outrage” by care operators, many of whom have battled to stay afloat over the past 18 months with mounting staffing and financial challenges. 

SAGE has advised that the combination of flu and COVID-19 could make this winter more of a threat than ever before to the most vulnerable people, particularly those in specialist care environments, and that vaccination is a tool in preventing the transmission of both.

In its consultation paper, titled ‘Making vaccination a condition of deployment in the health and wider social care sector’, the Department of Health and Social care says that flu vaccine uptake among social care workers in care homes was around 33 per cent last year – including 48 per cent for those directly employed and 36 per cent for those employed through an agency – which is significantly lower than uptake of the COVID-19 vaccine.

But for operators already under pressure to meet the needs of their residents while losing staff over the COVID-19 vaccination issue, the worry is that more leaving the profession over the compulsory flu jab may tip the balance. 

One senior figure in a care operator, who wished to remain anonymous, told NR Times: “This is one step too far, particularly so soon after we’ve been forced to lose good people because of the COVID vaccination. 

“Smaller operators are struggling to stay afloat. We’re doing all we can but these are very difficult times. People say we’re through the worst, and in some ways that is true, but the staffing situation is getting worse. By forcing more people out of the sector, the future is very worrying.” 

Paul TM Smith – consultant to Renal Health Ltd and a leading name in specialist care, who is also part of the Royal College of Nursing’s older people’s forum – confirmed to NR Times that the RCN was invited to be part of the consultation. 

“The recent report from MPs (Coronavirus: lessons learned to date) highlighted many failures in the Government’s handling of COVID, but also showed the success of the vaccination programme. There is absolute terror at the prospect of a fourth or fifth wave of COVID, particularly as we come into flu season,” he says. 

“So, given that, I can understand where this approach by the Government comes from – but the situation with the COVID vaccinations has been rushed through and care homes now risk being hit again. And I can’t see it being a one-off for this year, as COVID isn’t going away. 

“I think there will be fury when this becomes known, there will be outrage from many. I worry this could be one vaccination too far and I’d be hesitant to say I’m 100 per cent convinced a policy around compulsory flu vaccinations for staff would be a good thing.

“We’ve seen that clinical advice and political action can be poles apart, and the Government aren’t bound to take that advice. The implications for the sector need to be fully considered.”

While many social care workers will qualify for free flu jabs, not all will, and a lack of clarity also exists over who would have to fund compulsory vaccinations. 

“If it starts costing people to be vaccinated, people who are on low pay working in very challenging conditions, then it becomes a levy. And if this falls to operators, up to 85 per cent of whom are very small operations, this will be a very significant expense for them at a time when they can’t afford any more financial pressures,” says Paul. 

The care home operator adds: “For any care staff in our homes who didn’t qualify for a free flu vaccination, I couldn’t possibly allow them to pay; but then that’s yet another outlay for us. I would hope there may be some Government support there, and that they appreciate how under pressure we really are.”

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Long COVID symptoms ‘typically last up to six months’

Research shows more than half of people with COVID-19 will go on to experience long-term Long COVID symptoms

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More than half of the 236million people who have been diagnosed with COVID-19 worldwide since December 2019 will experience Long COVID symptoms up to six months after the initial virus, new research has revealed. 

During their illnesses, many patients with COVID-19 experience symptoms such as tiredness, difficulty breathing, chest pain, sore joints and loss of taste or smell.

But its impacts, both mentally and physically, can extend into a range of further debilitating issues which can last for months – which the research team at Penn State College of Medicine saying their study findings should leave governments, healthcare organisations and public health professionals in no doubt over the scale of COVID-19 survivors who will need care for a variety of psychological and physical symptoms.

Until recently, few studies have evaluated patients’ health after recovering from the Coronavirus. To better understand the short- and long-term health effects of the virus, the researchers examined worldwide studies involving unvaccinated patients who recovered from COVID-19.

According to the findings, adults, as well as children, can experience several adverse health issues for six months or longer after recovering from COVID-19.

The researchers conducted a systematic review of 57 reports that included data from 250,351 unvaccinated adults and children who were diagnosed with COVID-19 from December 2019 through to March 2021. 

The researchers analyzed patients’ health post-COVID during three intervals at one month (short-term), two to five months (intermediate-term) and six or more months (long-term).

According to the findings, survivors experienced an array of residual health issues associated with COVID-19. Generally, these complications affected a patient’s general wellbeing, mobility or organ systems. 

Overall, one in two survivors experienced long-term COVID manifestations and the rates remained largely constant from one month through to six or more months after their initial illness.

Issues with general wellbeing, mobility, neurological impacts and mental health disorders all featured heavily in the long-term symptoms. 

“These findings confirm what many health care workers and COVID-19 survivors have been claiming, namely, that adverse health effects from COVID-19 can linger,” said co-lead investigator Vernon Chinchilli, chair of the Department of Public Health Sciences. 

“Although previous studies have examined the prevalence of Long COVID symptoms among patients, this study examined a larger population, including people in high-, middle- and low-income countries, and examined many more symptoms. Therefore, we believe our findings are quite robust given the available data.”

“The burden of poor health in COVID-19 survivors is overwhelming,” said co-lead investigator Dr. Paddy Ssentongo, assistant professor at the Penn State Center for Neural Engineering. 

“Among these are the mental health disorders. One’s battle with COVID doesn’t end with recovery from the acute infection. Vaccination is our best ally to prevent getting sick from COVID-19 and to reduce the chance of Long COVID even in the presence of a breakthrough infection.”

The mechanisms by which COVID-19 causes lingering symptoms in survivors are not fully understood. These symptoms could result from immune-system overdrive triggered by the virus, lingering infection, reinfection or an increased production of autoantibodies. 

According to the researchers, early intervention will be critical for improving the quality of life for many COVID-19 survivors. They said that in the years ahead, healthcare providers will likely see an influx of patients with psychiatric and cognitive problems, such as depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder, who were otherwise healthy before their COVID-19 infection. 

Based on these findings, healthcare providers should plan and allocate resources accordingly in order to effectively monitor and treat these conditions, the team said. 

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A Chance for Life extends neurorehab in the North

The move will extend the range of patient services in the area and improves patient journeys

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Neurological physiotherapy provider Neurocare Physiotherapy now falls under the umbrella of complex case management and rehabilitation specialist A Chance for Life. 

The move extends the range of patient services in the North and improves patient journeys, too.

There is an inevitable challenge for any organisation delivering neuro rehab. With such a wide range of conditions to treat, it can be difficult for any organisation to build a pool of expertise large and diverse enough to service them all.

But Louise Chance, founder of A Chance for Life Ltd, the specialist in rehabilitation support work, case management, physiotherapy, occupational therapy and medico-legal reporting, has found a solution to that challenge.

Louise has combined her team’s capabilities with those of Lancashire-based Neurocare Physiotherapy. 

For almost two decades, Neurocare Physiotherapy has treated patients across the North West of England for neurological conditions such as stroke, multiple sclerosis (MS), Parkinson’s, foot drop, head injury and other disorders.

For much of that time, A Chance for Life has worked in a similar space from its base in Penrith, providing support for clients who often have a variety of social, physical, mental and vocational needs.

Louise saw an opportunity to bring the two organisations together: “We saw that what we do and where we do it dovetails nicely.

“Being able to expand the range of care we offer across the North of England and Southern Scotland is so important, because it means our clients can access more of the support they need from a single source.”

Get in touch to find out more on 01768 891709.

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