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Inpatient rehab

Specialist neuro centre continues to invest

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Chase Park Neuro Centre - based in Whickham, near Newcastle

A specialist neurological centre is continuing to invest in its offering as it increases therapy and rehab provision for patients.

Chase Park Neuro Centre has developed its facilities over several years, with a hydropool and gym area being added in 2007 to increase therapy opportunities for residents, but efforts have redoubled since being acquired in 2016.

Under the ownership of Dr Niraj Brahmabhatt, Chase Park has brought its external therapy and psychological support services in-house, with a neuropsychologist now based on site.

And in addition to its therapy support team, Chase Park – based in Whickham, near Newcastle, in the North East of England – is also investing in new limb training technology to increase physical rehab provision.

Having been in operation for over 25 years, 60-bed Chase Park has built a reputation as a specialist neurological centre, delivering strong outcomes in enabling residents to return to the community.

Under the guidance of Dr Brahmabhatt – who has worked in neurorehab roles in the independent sector and NHS, including at UCLH Queen’s Square – and registered manager Jane Webber, supported by a 90-strong team, Chase Park has developed its support significantly.

“Chase Park has always been known for its ethos and its rehab pathways, that has always been part of the fabric, and the spirit of the centre is very much about helping our younger adults in particular to move on to independent community living,” says Dr Brahmabhatt.

“Our offering has become more specialist over time and in the last couple of years, the decision to bring the therapy and neuropsychology in-house has been an important one.

“We are also going to be introducing limb training technology from Easter, which will add to the work of our team to offer new opportunities. It feels like the right time to do this, we have created the right rehab setting, and will come as a boost for staff and residents alike post-COVID.

“We are really focusing on therapy and are committed to raising the standards of what we do here even higher, and I think the level of outcomes we are achieving in terms of our younger adults getting back into the community helps to show that.”

Over the past year, Chase Park’s stringent safety policies and unrelenting commitment to protecting its residents has enabled the centre to remain COVID-19 free. Implementing lockdown measures and a ban on visiting from early March last year ensured Chase Park was already in control of its safety measures by the time national lockdown was enforced two weeks later.

“This early decision to lock down, and the fact we were very much on top of PPE requirements, meant we were very well prepared,” says Dr Brahmabhatt.

“Jane has been fantastic throughout and there were very strict processes and staff regulations introduced very early. We created a separate room for staff to change clothing when they arrived at work and sanitise, and barrier nursing came in very early too.

“We also decided not to take any admissions from hospital for the first few months – it was August or even September by the time we would take hospital patients, by which time testing was more available and infection control practices were well established. There was pressure to take new patients, but we felt that in the first few months we could not do that.

“We were very strict in our practices and our care staff were so committed they were managing risk even outside of the working environment. We know personal sacrifices were made and we are lucky to have such a team here.

“I must give great credit to the whole team, and particularly to Jane, for the work that has been done in keeping everyone safe.”

In the coming weeks, Chase Park hopes to return to more normality for its residents and staff, now that all have had the first dose of the vaccination with the second at Easter.

“We’re hoping to start using the pool with a lot more frequency and for our residents to get back into the community – we know how difficult it has been for them being here all of the time, but thankfully that should change soon,” says Dr Brahmabhatt.

“There will also be the opportunity to increase our capacity again, we had empty beds during the pandemic which will be recommissioned in the next few weeks. We had 30 residents with us since the outbreak last March and will be able to take more patients now.

“This has been a very difficult time for our residents and staff, but we know how difficult it has been for families, too. We will get back to allowing visiting as soon as we can, but our team have been a huge support in helping residents with the use of technology and iPads to keep in touch.

“The team have been brilliant – in delivering care, keeping our residents safe, and keeping everyone’s spirits up, we have got through the past few months with their fantastic commitment and dedication.”

Inpatient rehab

Review launched into end-of-life stroke care

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End-of-life care after stroke and how current practice can be improved is being investigated in a new landmark study. 

Hospital stroke units across the UK will be assessed to establish their current end-of-life care approach, and the views of health professionals, alongside patients and families will be sought in formulating the recommendations for best practice. 

It explore current challenges around receiving and providing end-of-life care after stroke and will investigate what medical professionals, patients and carers consider both helps and hinders current levels of care. 

The 18-month study is being supported by a grant of £142,626 and involves universities and NHS Trusts across the country. 

It is being led by the UK’s largest nurse-led stroke research team at the University of Central Lancashire, whose School of Nursing is home to the only two nursing professors of stroke care in the UK. 

“Despite medical advances, 21 per cent of stroke patients die within 30 days of having their stroke. High quality end-of-life care and support after stroke is therefore crucial,” says Dr Clare Thetford, senior research fellow from ULCan’s School of Nursing. 

“However, stroke is different to other conditions, and can make end-of-life care complex.

“There is a lack of education and guidance for healthcare professionals responsible for providing this care. This may cause inadequate, inappropriate or delayed care and support. 

“We will explore what specific challenges stroke may create, and how the many recent changes to general end-of-life care might work with stroke patients.”

The National Institute for Health Research Programme Development Grant will see UCLan and Lancashire Teaching Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust (LTHTR), based in Preston, collaborate with partners including Oxford University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust, Canterbury Christ Church University, University of Nottingham, Poole Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, University of Exeter, alongside a dedicated patient and public involvement group.

Professor Liz Lightbody, who is leading a National Stroke Workforce group for end of life care, on behalf of Health Education England, says: “There is a view that providing end of life care is the role of specialist palliative care teams, but this is not the case. 

“Good quality end-of-life care is everyone’s business, all staff involved in caring for patients following a stroke should have the knowledge and skills to provide compassionate and sensitive end of life care.

“LTHTR is committed to providing mechanisms to translate research evidence into practice and thereby influencing improvements in the quality of care. It is providing a pivotal role in the transformational development of stroke services across South Cumbria and Lancashire and will ensure the results from this research are implemented into practice.

“Together we are at the forefront of new innovations in healthcare, so I am delighted that we are involved with this research and that local patients can benefit from access to emerging new treatment for strokes.”

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Inpatient rehab

Nurses to establish specialist centre in Nigeria

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Two nurses from a care and rehab community are using their 20 years of experience with the provider to open a specialist care centre in their native Nigeria. 

Isaac and Nikki Ajibade, two of the longest-serving members of staff at Askham Village Community, are establishing an 18-bed centre in Nigeria which will provide nursing and dementia care, with future plans to expand into neuro support. 

The couple are using Askham’s community approach in creating their own centre, and will use their two decades of experience with the provider to help them establish and develop their new project. 

“We will be using Askham as a source of inspiration for our approach – with a key focus being on the real sense of togetherness we feel here,” says Isaac, who met his wife at the school of nursing in Nigeria in 1976.

“Askham’s owners care for the place, for the staff, for the residents, and it’s this we want to emulate ourselves in Nigeria. 

“To care for people, you need to be compassionate. People need help and I’m always very happy when I’m helping people.”

The couple will retire from Askham, near Doddington, at the end of the month to begin work on developing their centre in Nigeria, which is already built. 

Isaac is currently Askham’s longest-serving lead nurse, who specialises in long-term degenerative conditions of young people, and Nikki is a specialist nurse in dementia care.

Both have played significant roles in the development of Askham Village Community. Isaac joined Askham in 2012, with his current role seeing him manage Askham Place, one of the five independent care units that make up Askham. 

When he first joined, there were only three units, but in his time there the care community has continued to expand its offering, broadening its expertise to cater for ever more resident and patient needs.

The couple also say they regard their colleagues and residents at Askham as members of their extended family, and last Christmas, their children and grandchildren – who live and work in the US, Ghana and Nigeria – all visited Askham during a holiday to the UK.

“In life, we are in stages. The main thing is to move when you are strong, and when you can go out and about and do the things you want to,” says Isaac. 

“We feel we have achieved three quarters of what we want in life! My children are grown and I’m happy they’re all in good places, so the next thing is to go and enjoy the latter part of our lives where we can do good and rewarding work that brings us joy.”

Aliyyah-Begum Nasser, director at Askham, says: “Isaac and Nikki are Askham institutions. They have been with us for many years and to be honest I can’t imagine Askham without them. Their legacy will be here for years to come. 

“Ever since they first started with us, they have always been part of the life and soul of Askham. I have so many fond memories, particularly when we would celebrate the diversity at Askham through international days and Isaac would always come in his native Nigerian attire, much to the delight of the residents. 

“As lead nurse of Askham Place for almost a decade, he has witnessed the many high and lows of working in social care, but has always remained focussed on providing the very best care for his residents.

“Nikki is just as dedicated to her dementia residents in Askham House and her personality shines through in all she does. Just like a proud motherly figure, she runs a tight ship but always makes sure everyone is smiling. 

“Most recently, during the height of the COVID-19 pandemic, she has been what can only be described as a true soldier; motivating her team and ensuring residents were comfortable amidst incredibly trying circumstances.

“On behalf of everyone associated with Askham, we can’t thank both of them enough for all the vulnerable people they have provided excellent care for, and the countless staff they have empowered and led and supported over their years here.

“They’re so dedicated to our residents, and we know they will apply that same dedication to their endeavours in Nigeria. We’re all excited to see it come to fruition and will be doing all we can to support it from afar and we wish them all the very best.”

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Inpatient rehab

Specialist hospital expands capacity

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A hospital which supports people with brain injuries and degenerative neuropsychiatric conditions has invested to increase its capacity, bringing a further 12 much-needed beds. 

St Peter’s Hospital in Newport now offers 51 beds across single-gender units, which provide person-centred assessment, specialist treatment and nursing care for men and women. 

The additional beds come after a significant investment from specialist care provider Ludlow Street Healthcare, which owns and runs St Peter’s Hospital.

In addition to the 12 new en-suite rooms, a new family room and modern communal area have also been created, increasing provision for patients and their families. 

St Peter’s is known for the multi-disciplinary team is has on site, including psychologists, psychiatrists and an extensive group of therapists including dietetics, physiotherapy and speech and language specialists. 

It is committed to pursuing a therapy-based model of care, which can reduce patients’ need for a primarily drug-based pharmacological approach.

“Caring for and treating people with degenerative neuropsychiatric conditions and ABI is a very specialist area which requires expert knowledge and a lot of time,” says Dr Grzegorz Grzegorzak, consultant psychiatrist at St Peter’s Hospital. 

“There is an urgent need in Wales and the UK as a whole for more specialist facilities like ours. Extending our facilities allows us to give immediate help to more people, delivering more positive outcomes.”

Work began on developing the hospital’s facilities in late 2019, and despite the challenges posed by the COVID-19 pandemic, the extension has been completed on schedule.

The expansion of St Peter’s continues to incorporate the bespoke design elements which make it dementia and ABI friendly. 

The hospital has worked closely with The University of Stirling’s Dementia Services Development Centre, to create an environment that is not only innovative and therapeutic but also encourages patient proactivity.

Helen Rocker, hospital director at St Peter’s Hospital, says: “This is an exciting development for St Peter’s and we are looking forward to welcoming new patients to the hospital.

“With all of our staff and patients who are able to receive the vaccine having been vaccinated, this couldn’t be a better time to be opening the new facility.

“The last year has been very challenging and the staff have been exemplary throughout in their unswerving commitment to ensuring the highest standards of virus control. So it’s gratifying to be finally able to look forward and focus on new opportunities to develop our patient services.”

And with the increased provision for patients comes new job opportunities, says Helen. 

“In order to support our additional patients, we will need to increase our staff numbers and we are actively recruiting for RMH and RGN Nurses as well as support workers,” she adds. 

“We have just raised our nursing salaries by nearly 6.5 per cent and are confident that we currently offer some of the most rewarding career opportunities for nurses in South Wales.”

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