Karen moved into Exemplar Health Care’s Tyne Grange care home in 2020 following several failed placements in other care services.
With 1:1 support from our care team, and input from the therapy team at Tyne Grange, Karen has been supported to take her first steps since she was paralysed, and is now able to live a fulfilling life in an environment where she’s happy
Karen had a spinal cord injury around eight years ago which resulted in quadriplegia. She has complex needs in terms of her physical condition, and she has a personality disorder and displays behaviours of concern with regular self-harm and emotional dysregulation.
Karen has had many previous placements that have broken down, mainly due to the complex behaviours of concern that she displays.
With high staffing levels and specialist nursing care at Tyne Grange, which enable Karen to have 1:1 support, she now enjoys a good quality life.
At Tyne Grange, Karen has a session with the home’s in-house physiotherapist twice per week.
These sessions have improved her upper body and hand dexterity, strength and range of movement in her legs and her transfer and mobility practice.
Karen’s movement has improved significantly since coming to Tyne Grange. She has progressed from requiring a full hoist to using a stand aid, and now she’s able to walk using a walking frame. She’s achieved 54 metres of independent walking with a walking frame.
We’ve set a goal for her to be able to walk across the Millennium Bridge in Gateshead independently. We’re hoping to make this a big fundraising event.
Karen has regular sessions with the home’s in-house occupational therapist.
These sessions focus on improving her independent living skills and social integration.
In them, Karen works on preparing food and baking, increasing independence with personal care, accessing the community, building self-esteem and managing her emotions through sensory/self-soothing work.
Karen really enjoys her time spent accessing the community. Her current goal is to find a local class to start a new hobby and meet other people.
Karen has a personality disorder and displays behaviours of concern including regular self-harm and emotional dysregulation.
Our high staffing levels have enabled Karen to progress at her own pace and build trust with the care team. This has reduced the number of instances of behaviours of concern.
Karen’s built a great rapport with the staff at Tyne Grange who have got to know her well and have learned how to manage her emotional needs.
Karen’s self-harming behaviours have dramatically decreased since coming to Tyne Grange.
Her happiness in living here is a huge credit to the staff who have built a great relationship with her. This allows Karen to feel safe and able to continue with her hobbies and do things she loves to do.
Since moving to Tyne Grange, Karen has explored a variety of activities and interests. She loves doing arts and crafts, going shopping, making friends and is the home’s Service User Ambassador.
Hear from Karen
“I had a spinal injury around eight years ago and have lived in numerous other care homes, but I didn’t really settle in any of them. I love living here and it’s the first place that feels like home,” she says.
“When I first met Sam, the Manager at Tyne Grange, she told me about the facilities in the home and that I’d be encouraged to be independent. And she wasn’t wrong!
“The staff at Tyne Grange support me with my hobbies.
“I love collecting teddy bears and dolls. We take regular trips to the local charity shop in search of them, and one of the ladies who works in the charity shop down the road has started collecting them for me.
“I’m also the queen of arts and crafts in the home, and I’ve got my own section of the garden that I keep on top of.
“I’m Tyne Grange’s Service User Ambassador. As an ambassador, I go on monthly Zoom calls with ambassadors from other Exemplar Health Care homes and we make decisions about the way the company is run. This year, we’ve organised lots of fun competitions such as a pumpkin growing competition and a quiz.
“I enjoy being an ambassador because it gives me things to do and I feel like I make a difference.
“One of my favourite things about living at Tyne Grange is that I choose what I want to do. The staff support me if I want to go out, which can be daily if I want. And they help me to decorate my bedroom.
“Since moving here, I do regular sessions with the physiotherapist, Helen, and I’ve recently taken my first steps since my accident.
“I wouldn’t want to live anywhere else!”
Brain injury survivor fundraises for The Walton Centre
Karen Parry’s running club is fundraising for the specialist centre which saved her life
A woman whose life was saved by The Walton Centre after an accident at home has inspired a fundraising initiative on behalf of the nationally-renowned specialist centre.
In December last year, Karen Parry was making her way up to bed when she fell down the stairs, hitting her head on the hall floor.
Karen, from Prescot, was rushed to the Aintree Trauma Unit before being transferred to the neighbouring Walton Centre for life-saving brain surgery.
“It was one of the most terrifying nights of my life,” recalls Karen’s husband, Gavin.
“Karen was badly hurt, but I didn’t realise how badly until I was at The Walton Centre speaking to the anaesthetist about the emergency surgery she was going to have.
“Mr Rasheed Zakaria and his surgical team saved Karen’s life, but they also took the time to calmly and compassionately explain Karen’s condition to me along with the steps they would be taking.”
Karen made it through the surgery at the pioneering Walton Centre and was put in a medically-induced coma to allow her brain to recover enough to be woken up later.
“I was visiting Karen in ICU every day with special permission due to the severity of Karen’s condition,” Gavin continues.
“When I came in the day she was being brought out of her coma, I found her dedicated nurse brushing her hair, she said it was because removing the tangles would have hurt her when she was awake.
“I thought this was very kind and thoughtful. They cared so well for her, it was outstanding.”
The 52-year-old spent over two weeks in ICU, having further corrective procedures before moving to a ward to recover further – spending Christmas in hospital.
Gavin said: “Karen had been assisted into the chair at the side of her bed for our visit, which was great to see.
“At this stage Karen was too weak to spend much much more than half an hour sat upright and we were all really happy to be with each other.
“It was a lovely visit and we were sad to leave. As on any other day the staff were busy but lovely and kind.”
Then March this year, Karen was able to return home, after receiving rehabilitation with the Cheshire and Merseyside Rehab Network, hosted by The Walton Centre.
“Karen was so determined to get better, she’s so tough,” said Gavin.
“She kept getting stronger. The Walton Centre continued to support her. Mr Zakaria, the neurosurgeon who saved her life, sent a detailed letter to her GP to ensure they knew exactly how to support Karen when she did come home.”
While Karen was in hospital, her local running club Knowsley Harriers nominated The Walton Centre Charity as their charity of the year.
Karen is Treasurer of the club and an avid running coach. Each month the club hosts ‘The Walton Centre Charity’ 5km run, which encourages members and non-members to donate to the charity.
So far they have raised nearly £900 this year, and will continue to do so for the rest of 2022.
Gavin added: “The club has a number of links to the hospital, from other members who have previously been looked after there. We were delighted when they picked The Walton Centre Charity.
“This was a very frightening time for my son and myself and very much a rollercoaster ride of emotions explained to us when Karen entered the unit.
“Sadly, Karen remembers very little of her time in The Walton Centre but I have reminded her of the wonderful care which she has received.
“The nurses, doctors and therapy staff are truly inspirational, not only for their professionalism and incredible skills as medical practitioners but they also have the kind of qualities that cannot be taught in a classroom – care, love, kindness, understanding and humanity – they have them in abundance.”
Karen said: “Sadly, I remember little about my time in The Walton Centre due to the nature of my head injury. Gav has spoken to me at length about the wonderful people that cared for me there. I would just like to thank them all from the bottom of my heart.”
To donate to the fundraising appeal, visit https://www.justgiving.com/fundraising/khac2022
Helping John to play football again after brain injury
Specialist support from Dearnvale, an Exemplar Health Care home, has made his goal possible
Following a serious fall, John had a brain injury that led him to experience reduced mobility, poor vision and difficulties communicating.
Four years later, with the support of the nurse-led team at Exemplar Health Care’s outstanding-rated care home, Dearnevale, John lives a fulfilling life and has recently joined his local football team.
In 2018, John experienced a thin acute subdural hematoma and contusion following a fall. This led to an acquired brain injury, dysphasia, poor short-term memory, epilepsy, poor vision and Bell’s palsy.
Following his injury, John experienced reduced mobility, poor vision, difficulties with communication and swallowing, and he developed behaviours of concern.
Before John’s fall, he owned a building business and worked seven days a week – his only rest time was Sunday afternoon when he went to his local working men’s club for a rest and a pint. John’s spare time was spent with his young daughter or playing football. He also coached the local pub football team.
With one-to-one support from the care team and input from the life skills team at Dearnevale, John has made great progress in his recovery. He is now able to mobilise independently, has had his PEG feeding tube removed, and enjoys living a fulfilled life.
Behaviours of concern
After his injury, John started to display behaviours of concern.
The trained team at Dearnevale has helped him to develop strategies to recognise when he is experiencing periods of agitation that could escalate to behaviours of concern.
Our high staffing levels enable John to progress at his own pace and build trust with the care team.
He is now able to vocalise to staff when he’s feeling agitated or the sensation that he’s becoming agitated. He recognises when he’s about to experience seizure activity and will seek assistance and take time out to enable these symptoms to be managed before escalation.
During his time at Dearnevale, the number and duration of incidents of behaviours of concern have reduced dramatically.
At Dearnevale, the team has supported John to rebuild his mobility.
When John first moved to Dearnevale, he was at high risk of falls and received one-to-one support to support him to mobilise safely.
Over the past few years, John has enjoyed sessions with the in-house Physiotherapy Team to build his body strength and range of movement.
Now, he’s able to mobilise independently, only requiring verbal prompts when he’s tired.
John enjoys walking in the local community and goes to football training and plays on a local team. He’s just started jogging with a coach to build his fitness.
Specialist care from a trained team
At Dearnevale, John receives person-centred care to support his complex holistic needs.
John has received input from Dieticians and Speech and Language Therapists (SALT). He stated that he preferred to receive support from Dearnevale colleagues, and since doing so, he’s had his PEG feeding tube removed and he’s able to eat and drink orally.
Developing life skills
At Dearnevale, the team has encouraged John to develop his life skills and build his independence.
He enjoys regular sessions with the in-house life skills team at Dearnevale. These sessions focused on improving his independent living skills and social integration.
John has developed his hand and eye co-ordination and enjoys completing the Rubix cube. He asks staff to mix the cube for him and has successfully completed the puzzle 423 times!
John has also developed his level of concentration and has begun playing the keyboard, as he did before his injury. He is completing self-taught lessons that he accesses online, with the aim of performing at the Christmas talent show.
With the support of the team, John has begun preparing his own meals in the therapy kitchen.
He loves helping out in any way he can, and volunteers to clean the therapy kitchen and hoover the training every Monday.
Over the next 12 months, John has expressed that he hopes to continue building his independent living skills.
Hear from John
“I’ll tell you the truth, Dearnevale is fantastic. The people here are always here for me, they’re fantastic. They did this for me and I am gobsmacked I have got so far.”
Dearnevale, part of Exemplar Health Care, is a specialist care home that supports adults living with complex and high acuity needs.
The home, located in Grimethorpe near Barnsley, is rated ‘Outstanding’ with CQC and is quality assured by the Huntington’s Disease Association.
Visit the website to find out more: www.exemplarhc.com
The secret of a successful rehab service? Happy, supported staff
Askham Rehab shares stories of progression and development from its team
Meet Bonnie, Lisa, Shainy and Stacey from Askham Rehab, as they share their journeys to working for one of the leading neuro-rehab providers in East Anglia.
One thing they share is that when they first started working with Askham, they did not think they would be working in rehab.
However, over time and with the support of a management team committed to person-centered empowerment for staff as well as residents, they have flourished. Each of them now contribute directly to quality of life improvements of the rehab patients at Askham.
Every member of the Askham team has a story to tell – one that involves self-development, professional ambition, and personal drive to be the best they can be, and in so doing bring this out in their rehab patients too.
Askham is always looking for motivated individuals to join their team – if you could see yourself working alongside Bonnie, Lisa, Shainy, Stacey or their colleagues, get in touch with the Askham team.
‘I moved from the kitchen into speech therapy’
For Bonnie Nelson, her 14-year career at Askham has been varied, and through her initial role as a kitchen assistant, she saw first-hand the impact speech therapy had.
“I saw the speech therapists at work and thought that’s something I’d really like to do,” she says.
“I loved working in the kitchen but wanted to be more involved with the residents and their rehab, so wondered whether I could be a speech therapy assistant. I started helping out at first, but it was too much to do alongside my job.
“Askham were really supportive and gave me the option to choose – I jumped at the chance to work in speech therapy.”
Now, having made the move in 2013, Bonnie is loving her role as a speech therapy assistant.
“It’s such a valuable and rewarding role, and of course it’s not just about speech, it’s about swallowing, eating and drinking, really vital parts of their lives,” she says.
“There are some very special moments, such as when you work with someone and they regain the ability to say their children’s names, or someone is able to follow a normal diet after having to have pureed food. It’s lovely to share that with them.
“It is lovely to feel like you’ve made a difference to people’s lives and to see their progress.”
She remains grateful to Askham for the opportunity to re-train and move to a rehab role.
“Askham were great and supported me with training on the job, and giving me the opportunity to complete some courses in speech therapy, which I did in my own time,” says Bonnie.
“I’m so pleased it’s a move I’ve made, and Askham is a lovely place to work.”
‘I became a carer during the COVID pandemic’
Having resumed her career at Askham after taking a break to raise her family, Lisa Keel took on a role as a weekend kitchen assistant in 2018. After realising the work/life balance worked for her, with Askham accommodating her need for childcare-friendly hours, she took on a role working Monday to Friday.
But having already progressed at Askham through her kitchen role, Lisa realised she would love to move again during the COVID-19 pandemic.
“I’d spent my time at Askham watching the carers at work and wishing I could do more to help,” she says.
“I couldn’t mix two jobs, so I decided I wanted to challenge myself and move into care.
“Although it was during a very difficult time, I was already working within a care home setting and just felt I wanted to support the care team, and especially the residents. I knew I wanted to put all I’ve got into it.”
So in September 2020, Lisa, with support and training from Askham – including specialist brain injury training – moved to become a carer. She recalls how difficult yet rewarding that challenging time was.
“This was at a time when residents couldn’t see their families, which was heartbreaking, but we as the care team effectively became their families during that period,” says Lisa.
“Just being there for them was so important, to support them with their physical and emotional needs. When a resident had COVID, I was put in the isolation team, which meant that one resident needed even more support during what was a particularly difficult time.
“You were so conscious of that fact that you were the only people our residents were seeing and you wanted to do all you could. It’s your job to make sure they’re safe and happy, and that was never more important than during that time.”
Through the dedication of Lisa and her colleagues during the pandemic, Askham’s care and rehab regime was able to continue, and residents progressed despite the challenges.
“We do get a lot of appreciation and ‘thank yous’ from residents, and their families too, many of whom we were able to keep in touch with their loved ones through using tablets and screens during isolation,” says Lisa.
“It’s very hard to say goodbye, as much as you also want them to leave and move on in their lives, but you do establish a strong bond. It does make you feel very proud to be a carer and to know the contribution you have made.”
‘I was supported in relocating from India’
Shainy Mathew was living in India in 2011 when an opportunity to relocate to England and work in nursing came up. Initially working to complete her adaptation programme having moved from overseas, Shainy became a registered nurse around eight months later.
Initially moving to Cambridgeshire alone, leaving her husband and baby in India, they joined her shortly afterwards, at which point Askham offered their assistance in supporting the family.
“My husband had to work too, so I was able to do my hours around his, which worked well for our childcare. My flexible shifts meant we could organise this,” says Shainy.
“If my son was ill or I had problems with childcare, I would call the lead nurse and was told not to worry, they would support me. Although we were here on our own with no family support, Askham felt like our extended family.
“The transition process in moving to a new country for the first time was often challenging, but I have been supported in every way. I have never felt pressured or unsupported because of childcare and I’m so grateful for the help I have been given over the years.
“The management and my colleagues were fantastic and so supportive. It made moving to a new country and being able to work a really good experience.”
Through Shainy’s dedication to her role in nursing, on the retirement of the long-serving lead nurse, she was offered the position.
“I was delighted to be offered the role as lead nurse, it was the service I knew and loved working in, but just with more responsibility. It was a great opportunity for me,” she says.
“Askham gave me the time to spend with the lead nurse before he retired, to work with him and learn more about the position I was about to take over. I was also given extra shifts to ensure I was fully prepared. That meant it was a very smooth transition for everyone.
“I got the chance to speak with one of Askham’s directors, Aliyyah-Begum Nasser, and the management team about the promotion and they were all confident that I could do it – and I am really loving it.
“As lead nurse, you have two days where you work on the admin, which is very different, but is very responsible in reviewing care plans, medication records and funding matters. It is a vital role and one I really do enjoy – and I still get plenty of opportunity to be with the patients.”
And it is the interaction with the patients that continues to inspire Shainy as a nurse.
“You see what they go through and the progress they make, and it is lovely to feel you play some role in that,” she says.
“You feel very much valued, there is a lot of happiness and job satisfaction in what we do. This is a great environment and a very positive working environment, and I love my work with the patients.
“I’m very grateful for the support I’ve had since I came here, and the opportunity for promotion. Askham is a great place to be.”
‘A secondment made me want to pursue a rehab career’
Having joined Askham in November 2018, initially in a part-time care assistance role, Stacey Hawkins was keen to progress – particularly after seeing the power of rehab through a secondment opportunity.
“I was offered a four-month secondment, where I worked with all four disciplines – physiotherapy, psychology, speech and language and occupational therapy,” she says.
“I learned a lot from this and really enjoyed it. I got so much insight into the sessions. A position came up for a rehab assistant, and having seen how much I loved working in rehab, I decided that’s what I wanted to do.”
Stacey was successful in her rehab assistant application, which she took up in September 2021, being given full training on-site to equip her for her new role.
“I read all the assignments for each Individual and look at what their goals are, we then work on these and build exercise plans and explain the treatment we feel is right for them,” she says.
“This is different for everyone, as everyone will have different needs and outcomes, so we work on finding the best and safest equipment and ways to do it. We often have to demonstrate to patients what we would like them to try, and we have to be calm, understanding and always listen.”
And the role is giving Stacey new levels of job satisfaction.
“I love being able to make a difference to people’s lives and seeing them achieve all they can in their rehab goals,” she says.
“Seeing the gratitude on the people’s faces, and their family members too, is priceless. The feeling is unreal to see people progress in their own ways and give someone their independence back.
“But while I absolutely love this role, I feel just as valued on the rehab team as I did when I was working on the care floor. Askham is one big family, and I’d say thank you to everyone here who has helped me on this journey.”
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