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Women’s service launched amid UK shortage



While there is increasing provision nationally for neuropsychiatric care, against a background of the growing need for such facilities, surprisingly little is dedicated to female care.

Units which are male-only can be found across the country, but the provision for dedicated women’s facilities is, by comparison, low. Often, women needing this neuropsychiatric support are directed to hospital or care facilities, rather than receiving the specialist services they badly need.

This is being addressed with the opening of a new facility which, while based in the North of England, will have a national reach to help ease the pressure on the minimal resources across the UK.

Cygnet Newham House, the first women-only neuropsychiatric facility in Cygnet Health Care’s national portfolio, will provide 12 hospital beds for women aged 18 and over, alongside eight on-site transitional care beds in two bungalows.

It opens in July and will offer clinical-led neuropsychiatric care and treatment for women with conditions which manifest primarily through challenging behaviour – including neurodegenerative diseases, dementia, various types of ABI including substance-related brain injury and functional neurological disorders.

Placements at the unit vary depending on the need of the individual. Women can be supported in their recovery for a short period of time, or, in the case of those with progressive diseases, can be helped over a longer period as their symptoms develop.

Centre manager David Williams, who has worked in nursing for over 25 years, holding a number of director-level roles in specialist healthcare businesses, is keenly aware of the need for a specialist female neuropsychiatric facility.

“There is a significant amount of people with ABI who also have psychiatric issues and need this specialist care. There are some who are in a hospital environment for their assessment, treatment, rehabilitation, but they really need a more appropriate pathway, which we can provide. We want to build on the neuropsychiatric services we have already at Cygnet by making sure we now have female services in place.”

 Plans for the facility, devised over a long period, have been built on the successes of Cygnet’s other specialist units across the country, while also being mindful of the specialist requirements of a female-only service.  

“Women’s services need to be tailored, this is an important service and we have a culture that looks after women and has women at the heart of what we’re doing,” says David.

“I’ve worked in lots of female low secure services, which have all the standard quality and compliance measures in place, but there are differences between genders which we have to cater for.

“We are diverse enough to appreciate that we need a broad range of activities, such as sports. It’s very person-centred and this approach is embedded into our culture here.” 

The nursing team has been trained in specialist neuropsychiatric care, although several staff members already have extensive experience in this area.

Training and strategy have been supported by Cygnet’s approach of sharing information and examples of best practice within the group, as well as being influenced by other national neuropsychiatric networks.  

“We are offering holistic care but with specialised interdisciplinary teams which have specialised training. This is very important to us in being at the forefront of treatment and care, and in offering our person-centric approach.   

“Care pathways could be very different for different people, but we will have the capability to respond to that. This is where our specialism comes in and we want to understand how that person works. We need to look at the full pathway for the patient, how best to empower them and enable them to be as independent as possible and have the provision to do that.

“We will also be working with family members who remember the person prior to their brain injury or neuropsychiatric issue, and that valuable insight will feed into the care we provide.”

With the development of Cygnet Newham House starting long before COVID-19 was on the horizon, it is somewhat unfortunate that its opening coincides with the pandemic, which has presented a number of challenges along the way. 

However, says David, challenge can bring opportunity, with the team already adapting to new ways of working to ensure they remain on track for a July opening.

“Our grand opening day, which has been so long in the planning, is going ahead but with as minimal risk as possible. We are supplying masks and gloves and visitors can book in appointments, to ensure they can still visit and that they and our staff are protected. 

“It adds another layer of challenge but boils down to good infection control. We have support in terms of PPE and testing, so we feel well prepared but it does add an extra consideration. We need to make sure people are tested when they come in and are isolated if needs must, as we would if they were in the community, but we are prepared for that.

“Our recruitment has also been done via video calls, which has been a big change for us. Interviewing people has gone very well and non-attendance has been almost non-existent. It has in some ways been more personable doing it this way. We’ve been able to have a better conversation with people as it feels more informal, which can often get the best out of candidates.

“For the sector as a whole, I think there is the opportunity to change massively for the better. We can become more environmentally friendly and we can introduce more intellectual ways of involving people using technology. There are certainly opportunities to be taken.”   

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Learn more about virtual reality in rehab

Event is an opportunity to hear from expert Dr Katherine Dawson, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist.



An event later this month will give neuro-rehab professionals an opportunity to learn more about the use of virtual reality in the field. 

The virtual webinar, on 26th January at 1.20pm to 2.30pm, features an in-depth talk by Dr Katherine Dawson, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist.

A Guide to Virtual Reality, which can be booked by emailing, will cover:

– Growth of digital health

– Virtual Reality(VR) / Telerehabilitation evidence base

– Virtual tour of the Brain Recovery Zone VR platform

– Where does the Brain Recovery Zone sit in a clinical pathway

– Clinical outcomes, case studies, and research trial

Dr. Katherine Dawson has over 15 years experience working in various rehabilitation settings (both within the NHS and private sector) with individuals who have a wide range of neurological conditions.

She has a particular interest in cognitive rehabilitation, and working with individuals and families to manage emotional and behavioural changes following Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).

She is currently involved in research with the NHS regarding ABI and telerehabilitation, and has recently published a book exploring adjustment to brain injury from the perspectives of clients, family members and clinicians. 

In December 2017, Katherine set up a local neuro-rehab service (Sphere Rehab) with her business partner, focusing on community integration post ABI. She also co-founded the Brain Recovery Zone neuro rehab Virtual Reality platform in the summer of 2019. The team are commissioned by several local CCGs and also work within the private sector.

Ahead of the event, she said: “I just wanted to say a massive thank you to Think Therapy 1st for inviting me to talk about VR and the Brain Recovery Zone. Virtual Reality has great potential in neuro rehab – both to ‘up’ the dosage of rehab, in addition to promoting ongoing engagement and self management.

“I am really looking forward to delivering this webinar and discussing some of the clinical outcomes including the work completed together with Think Therapy 1st and other clients.”

Helen Merfield, Managing Director, Think Therapy 1st, which is organising the event, said: “I am really excited about our VR event we have used Dr Dawson on a number of cases with amazing results and her VR really has changed lives.

“So much so that we are partnering with her company Sphere as a preferred provider for both VR through Brain Recovery Zone and Clinical and Neuro psychology. Close working ties can only improve outcomes which for both our companies are already impressive.”

To register for the event email


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Sport and exercise ‘have key role in mental health and wellbeing’

The Moving for Mental Health report highlights the role of physical activity in supporting mental resilience and recovery



Physical activity and sport can play a key role in supporting mental health and wellbeing and helping people to recover from the ongoing impact of the COVID-19 pandemic, a new report has concluded. 

The Moving for Mental Health report includes better training for health professionals to prescribe movement as a means of effectively tackling the vast growth in people experiencing mental health issues. 

Produced following the onset of the pandemic, the report sets out evidence that developing a healthy relationship with physical activity and being involved in linked programmatic interventions and social networks is beneficial, can improve people’s mental health and wellbeing, and help tackle social isolation.

The project, by the Sport for Development Coalition and Mind, highlights how COVID-19 has exposed the weaknesses of single-sector responses to addressing complex mental health problems and tackling growing health inequalities. 

The report recommends physical activity and community sport be further embedded in health policy and integrated care systems while calling for an enhanced role for experts by experience and diverse communities leading in the design, implementation and evaluation of future strategy and programming.

Launched at an online meeting of the All-Party Parliamentary Group for Sport, it is also designed to support and inspire public bodies, funders, commissioners and policy-makers as well as community-based programme providers aiming to enhance the impact of movement for mental health.

Paul Farmer, chief executive of Mind, said: “While Mind’s research suggests that half of adults and young people have relied on physical activity to cope during the pandemic, we also know that physical activity levels for people with long-term health conditions, including mental health problems, have declined. 

“Considering how vital physical activity is for many people’s mental health, it is clear that we need a collective effort to reach those who need support the most.”

Andy Reed, chair of the Sport for Development Coalition, said: “This report is aimed at supporting and informing policy-makers about how we can maximise the contribution of targeted sport and physical activity-based interventions at this crucial time.”

The research was led by a team of academic researchers from Edge Hill University and Loughborough University, and draws on evidence and submissions from over 70 organisations including sport and mental health organisations, public bodies and Government departments.

Andy Smith, professor of sport and physical activity at Edge Hill University, said: “The impact of Covid-19 on people’s mental health and wellbeing cannot be overstated. 

“It has brought to light the significant mental health inequalities which existed prior to COVID-19, but which have since worsened further, especially among those living in under-served and low-income communities. 

“Our research is calling on the Government and other public bodies to invest in the provision of movement opportunities for mental health across multiple policy sectors, and to use the evidence presented as a basis for making more effective policy decisions which benefit everyone’s mental health and which tackle deep-seated inequalities.”

Moving for Mental Health is the first policy report in a series being published throughout 2022 by the Coalition and relevant partners. The reports are aimed at maximising the contribution of targeted sport-based interventions to helping ‘level up’ communities facing disadvantage and deprivation and tackling deep-seated health and societal inequalities which have been exacerbated by COVID-19.

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Calvert Trust announces new trustees

Louise Dunn, Judith Gate, Emily Flynn and Victoria Notman bring their expertise to the Trust, which also runs Calvert Reconnections



The Lake District Calvert Trust (LDCT), which runs brain injury rehabilitation centre Calvert Reconnections, has started 2022 by announcing the appointment of four new trustees.

Louise Dunn, Judith Gate, Emily Flynn and Victoria Notman will bring their respective expertise to supporting the further development of the charity and its vital services.

Louise Dunn

Louise Dunn is a communications consultant and academic with over 25 years’ experience of management and leadership roles in the pharmaceutical industry and at Alder Hey Children’s NHS Foundation Trust and Charity.

Commenting on her appointment, Louise said: “As a Keswick resident, I’m delighted to be able to get involved with this extraordinary organisation, that has such a positive impact for people living with disabilities in our community and all over the UK.

“I am looking forward to learning more about how I can help the team and contributing to their exciting plans for the future.”

Judith Gate has extensive experience in the charity and public sectors including leading the volunteering and customer care functions for a national charity.

She currently leads a continuous improvement programme with a focus on delivering efficiency and improved customer experience through business process improvement and digital transformation.

Judith Gate

Judith said: “I applied to be trustee because I wanted to use my skills to deliver as much positive impact as possible. As an outdoor enthusiast I feel a genuine connection to the Calvert Trust‘s mission of making outdoor activity accessible to everyone

“I am really excited to join the board and look forward to using my knowledge and experience to help support the Trust achieve its ambitions over the coming years.”

Emily Flynn has over 21 years’ experience as a military officer and communications-electronics engineer across a wide spectrum of business areas including: senior leadership/board-level management; digital optimisation; resource planning; engineering, operations and risk management; trusteeship; and mountaineering leadership.

Commenting on her appointment, Emily said: “I am delighted to become a trustee of the Lake District Calvert Trust.

“The military introduced me to the benefits of outdoor education as a means of expanding personal confidence and stretching comfort zones in a controlled environment. It also led me to become a mountaineer.

“I hope to be able to bring my previous experience as a leader, mountaineer, engineer and trustee to help the Calvert Trust

Emily Flynn

continue to deliver amazing outdoor education to its participants and to help it grow over the next few years.”

Victoria Notman is legal director at the employment team at Burnetts Solicitors in Carlisle and has over 20 years’ experience as an employment lawyer.

She also has a first-class honours degree in physiotherapy and experience in the rehabilitation and development of adults and young people with mild to severe physical and mental impairments and learning needs.

Victoria said: “I am looking forward to applying my knowledge and skills to become integrated into the fabric of the Trust to such a degree that all the experience I have to offer can really make a difference to the lives and happiness of those accessing Calvert Lakes and Calvert Reconnections.”

Welcoming the charity’s new trustees, Giles Mounsey-Heysham, chairman of the LDCT Trustees, said: “After a detailed recruitment process, we are delighted to welcome our new Trustees.

Victoria Notman

“Together they bring a wealth of skills, experience and shared passion to the Lake District Calvert Trust. We welcome their contributions moving forward.”

The Lake District Calvert Trust has been supporting people with disabilities from its specialist Calvert Lakes residential centre and accessible riding centre near Keswick in the Lake District for almost 45 years.

Calvert Lakes has grown from being the UK’s first dedicated activity centre for people with disabilities, to welcoming around 3,500 visitors to stay each year.

These include individuals, family groups, specialist schools, accessible sports clubs, disability charity groups, supported living organisations and care homes across the UK.

Last year, the charity also opened Calvert Reconnections, the UK’s first residential brain injury rehabilitation programme combining traditional clinical therapies with physical activity in the outdoors.

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