Having opened a new purpose-built neurological care centre at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, the team at Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Lancashire were able to celebrate its first anniversary in rather less trying circumstances.
The centre first opened its doors on April 20 last year, only weeks after national lockdown was imposed, to help bring much-needed specialist neurological care provision and relieve pressure on the NHS frontline.
While the centre – which had been in the planning for 15 years and was subject to an 18-month construction and development project – had initially anticipated welcoming patients later in the year, its speedily-delivered opening meant it was able to take neuro patients out of hospitals to begin their specialist rehabilitation at the earliest opportunity.
“We had daily anxiety about whether this would happen and had to completely redesign our project plan. Moving was scaled back from seven days into two, and recruitment was speeded up and interviews took place by video,” the team previously told NR Times.
“I think if we’d have stopped and thought about what we were doing, and really considered the scale of the task, we’d have fallen over. But we did it and it was the most amazing team effort, absolutely everyone in our team played their role in getting us in and geared up to take clients.”
And now, the purpose-built centre – which has 40 bedrooms and four apartments and offers level 2 post-acute rehab support alongside palliative and end-of-life care – has more reason than most to celebrate its first anniversary, having successfully overcome the many challenges along the way.
During the past year, while many specialist care centres have been unable to take in new clients, Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre has already discharged several back to their homes, having completed their rehabilitation.
One such person is Laura Bacon, a 35-year-old admitted to the centre’s specialist intensive rehabilitation programme following surgery on an AVM in her brain.
“When I came in I was incredibly nervous, emotional and scared. This was the first time I had been unable to walk and in a wheelchair, which was incredibly daunting,” she recalls.
“The year previous it had been discovered I had an AVM in my left temporal lobe. After a craniotomy to remove it I was still left with epilepsy. I have both epileptic and non-epileptic attacks which I never could understand, but during my stay at Sue Ryder many things were explained in ways I had never been given before.
‘My therapy team – ‘Wow’ is the only way to describe them. Ellie, Louise, Jenny and Trudy worked so incredibly hard to keep me going. I am a very emotional person and they really truly are an incredible team and I owe them so much. They are a blessing to have there.
‘After the 12 weeks I left a new person. I left knowing who I was as a person. I left positive, strong and remarkably changed, able to do things I couldn’t do when I arrived. The whole place made a huge difference to me.”
Natalie Hilton, head of clinical services at Sue Ryder Neurological Care Centre Lancashire, says: “Sue Ryder has played a key role in the delivery of specialist care for people living with life-changing neurological conditions in Lancashire for over the last 30 years.
“The opening of this facility was a positive step forward, offering more opportunities for current and future clients, as well as cementing our commitment to provide expert support.
“Since we opened the doors to our new specialist centre, our focus has been on rehabilitation to enable people living with neurological conditions to remain in the community and claim their independence. Going forward, we are really excited about how our care will develop and expand as we work to modernise neurological care across the county.
“This past year has been very difficult for many people and it felt important that we marked our first anniversary as best we could, given current restrictions. The resilience and fortitude of our clients and staff has been nothing short of amazing.”
Calvert Reconnections strengthens senior team ahead of opening
A groundbreaking neurorehabilitation centre is helping to plan for its future even before its opening through strengthening its management team.
Calvert Reconnections is set to open on June 21 and is set to deliver new possibilities in brain injury rehabilitation through its UK-first residential programme which combines traditional clinical therapies with physical outdoor activities.
The centre, based on the outskirts of Keswick in the Lake District, is now making new additions to its senior team as is prepares for its long-awaited opening, which has previously been delayed due to COVID-19.
Claire Appleton has become head of service at Calvert Reconnections with Lorna Mulholland appointed as registered manager.
Claire, an occupational therapist, has 23 years’ experience working in the NHS and has held various community roles including in acquired brain injury, long-term neurological conditions, neurological splinting and stroke rehab.
Five years ago, Claire moved into a management post in the NHS leading the Eden Community Rehab Team, developing strategic specialist leadership and management skills, and gaining valuable experience delivering high quality health services.
Lorna has 12 years’ specialist experience within the social care sector, principally in acquired brain injury, learning disabilities, mental health and autism.
She has an extensive knowledge base in delivering care within a residential and supported living setting with experience in complex challenging behaviour.
Sean Day, centre director at Calvert Reconnections, says: “As part of our senior management team, Claire and Lorna have a key role to play in the delivery of our service.
“Everyone at Calvert Reconnections take great pride in what we do and the difference we can make to people’s lives.”
Adventures in VR for care home residents
Having fun in the snow and touching the clouds are some of the ways that residents at Exemplar Health Care’s Ribble View care home are using virtual reality technology to relax during lockdown.
This is part of Exemplar Health Care‘s commitment to investing in the latest life-enriching technology to make every day better for their people.
Over the past few months, the therapy team at the home has been working with individuals to explore their likes and interests, and tailoring the VR experience to their personal choices.
Individuals can choose from a range of pre-loaded films that are shot in 360 degrees, so that once the headsets are placed over their eyes, they can be fully immersed into a ‘virtual world’.
Lindsay Abraham, home manager at Ribble View, says: “Before we begin a session we talk to the individual to find out what they like.
“If someone’s a keen traveller, we can load videos of famous landmarks onto the VR headset, so they can travel around the world from the comfort of their home.
“The technology allows people to see a 360-degree picture and be fully immersed into the virtual experience.”
Since the introduction of VR technology at Ribble View, the team has already seen lots of benefits.
Pamela Hicken, therapist at the home, said: “VR has been well received at Ribble View. Some of our residents get very excited when they see me walking down the hallway with the headset.
“Everyone that’s used it has given positive feedback, and for many of our residents, it’s helped to reduce anxiety and pain.
“We used the VR headset with one of our residents who was experiencing anxiety. Before the session, they rated themselves as 7/10 for anxiety and 4/10 for pain.
“During the session, we used a calming snow scene on the headset, and incorporated massage and breathing exercises into the session, and we could see the individual become more relaxed throughout.
“At the end of the session, they’re anxiety score decreased to 3/10 and pain score to 3/10, and they commented that they found the session very ‘relaxing’.”
VR can also be incorporated into physiotherapy sessions to support rehabilitation and mobility.
Pamela continues: “For residents with athetosis, we’ve seen that their movements have become more purposeful, and residents with limited arm movements have been reaching out to touch things.
“We used the headset with one resident who has limited mobility, and they were moving their neck to look in different directions, and reaching out with their hands.
“Throughout the session, they made comments such as ‘I want to do it every day’ and ‘this is heaven’. By the end of the session, their anxiety score had reduced by two points.”
The benefits of virtual reality technology in care homes
DR.VR is a virtual reality distraction therapy that can support pain management and reduce stress and anxiety.
It uses a headset, which, when worn, transports people to a 3D computer generated environment and immerses them into a virtual ‘world’.
The technology can provide a safe and therapeutic experience for adults living with a range of neuro-disabilities and mental health needs.
Adding these meaningful experiences into people’s everyday lives can bring huge health and wellbeing benefits.
Research also shows that DR.VR can be effective in managing pain, anxiety and stress – the technology transports people to another environment, place or time, which can distract them from their current pain or stresses.
Clinical nurse manager, Shannon O’Dea, says: “For our service users when they are struggling, DR.VR will help to deescalate and redirect when the environment is too stimulating. DR.VR allows them to get to their safe space through guided meditation, relaxation or distraction.”
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 over 32 community-based, 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.
‘I’ll be forever grateful’
After 88-year-old Philip Haines had a stroke and lost mobility in his left side, his bespoke rehabilitation enabled him to regain his independence. Here, to mark Stroke Awareness Month, he shares his story of recovery
“I’ll be forever grateful.”
For 88-year-old Philip Haines, who lost mobility in his left side following a stroke, his thanks to those who helped him regain it are limitless.
Philip, former secretary to the Anglican Diocese of Peterborough, admits being “hit for six” after his stroke, which was caused by a blood clot in his brain.
His cerebral infarct left him with dense left hemiplegia, meaning he was unable to move his left arm and leg. While the blood clot was successfully removed, the stroke left Philip with cognitive challenges and difficulty in swallowing.
Philip was admitted to Askham Rehab from Peterborough City Hospital in November, where he was assessed by the multidisciplinary team and set clear goals, before being put on a specialist four-month programme specific to his needs.
And now, to mark Stroke Awareness Month, Philip is sharing his gratitude for the team at the specialist neurorehab community near Doddington, as well as to help show the life-changing effects such rehab can offer.
“The stroke knocked me for six and changed my life dramatically, but every day I was met with a group of very enthusiastic physiotherapists who were trying to bring some life back into my left side,” says Philip, who returned home last month.
“This whole journey has been a completely new experience, it’s almost like a rebirth. You always try to be positive, but it’s inevitable that you go through periods of feeling low.
“The team’s enthusiasm helped pick me up during those low points. We got on fine, they were very helpful, and it was a real group effort in trying to bring life back into my muscles.”
When asked if he had any final words for the team that looked after him throughout his rehabilitation, Philip says simply: “Keep up the good work. I’ll be forever grateful.”
During his time at Askham Rehab, Philip was able to make use of the family-run community’s robotics and sensor assisted technology, with it being one of a small number of providers in the UK to offer a specialist robotic-led rehabilitation service.
He used the MYRO table, a sensor-based surface with interactive applications, to aid upper limb movement and focus on balance, coordination, and cognitive training.
With strokes being a specialist area at Askham Rehab, Philip also performed mirror therapy, hands-on therapy and functional tasks as part of his tailored programme, which soon led to a significant improvement in his mobility.
“Philip had access to all four of our disciplines; clinical psychology, physiotherapy, occupational therapy, and speech and language therapy,” says Sara Neaves, clinical lead and outpatients service manager at Askham Rehab.
“It was clear from day one that Philip knew exactly what he wanted to achieve. This enabled us to set patient-centred goals with him, ensuring he was part of the process throughout his journey with us.
“Philip was fully independent before his stroke and enjoyed walking into Peterborough city centre every day for his lunch, so he was determined to get back on his feet.
“He swiftly improved the mobility of his left upper limb through the use of our robotics and mirror therapy, and was soon able to transfer using a Molift with the assistance of two.
“He also improved his swallowing through oral motor techniques and no longer needed thickening in his fluids.
“It has been extremely rewarding to see Philip come this far. He had a positive outlook on his rehabilitation journey with us from the offset.
“His sister has also been an excellent support to him and due to our patient-centred care, his individualised programme has worked to his goals.
“We’re delighted he’s now able to get back out and head into town again for his lunch outings with friends.”
Aliyyah-Begum Nasser, director at Askham, adds: “Philip’s journey at Askham encompasses what Stroke Awareness Month is all about; highlighting the strategies to improve the quality of life for persons recovering from the condition.
“Our family-run community, which has more than 30 years’ experience, including 10 years of neurological rehabilitation expertise, prides itself on having comprehensive and specialist programmes in place to ensure those undergoing rehabilitation with us receive structured, high-quality care with a holistic approach.”
For more information on Askham Rehab, visit https://askhamrehab.com/.
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