Specialist neurological care provider Sue Ryder is looking to increase its community support in the South East of England to add valuable new provision in the area amidst unprecedented demand for resources.
The charity said it is currently carrying out scoping work into what additional support it can provide, both in terms of rehabilitation and supported living.
Sue Ryder operates two neurological care centres in the area – Stagenhoe in Hertfordshire and The Chantry in Suffolk – and continues to grow its offering to inpatients, with The Chantry doubling the size of its Level 2 neurorehabilitation unit since its opening in January 2019.
It has also recently launched a pilot Parkinson’s helpline service for people living with their condition, families and healthcare professionals across the Suffolk region, to build on the success of its established Dementia Together service.
Now, Sue Ryder is turning its attention to ways it can continue to increase support for people living with neurological conditions in the community, at a time when existing resources are under huge pressure following the COVID-19 pandemic and growing NHS waiting lists.
“We’re always looking to support more people through our community services, to be there when it matters,” says Sally Davies, regional neurological director at Sue Ryder.
“We’re currently scoping out what we can do across both Suffolk and Hertfordshire as there is demand across both areas, we’re casting quite a wide net and are looking at what we can do.
“We are looking at rehabilitation as well as supported living, there are a plethora of different angles to look at as we want to make sure what we provide responds to the demand, which is incredibly high.
“We have a supported living bungalow in Suffolk, where we can support people who don’t have a high level of clinical need and don’t need to be in a neurological centre, so we are doing scoping work to see what we can do.
“I don’t think we can ever fully meet the demand out there, sadly, but we are always looking to increase provision where we can.”
The addition of the Parkinson’s helpline in March at The Chantry has also helped to give support to people living in the community with the neurological condition.
“It is a fantastic pilot, we’re nine months in with three left, and we’re there for people at any stage, right from those who have not yet been diagnosed but need information,” says Sally.
“We have a dedicated team member working on this and we’re reaching lots of people. We’re interacting with people however they like – email, video, telephone, whatever suits them best.”
Its use of virtual communication has increased significantly during lockdown, enabling residents, families, carers and healthcare professionals to maintain contact despite the restrictions.
“During COVID, it was very difficult to offer short-term places with the restrictions in place, so we were able to offer virtual support by Zoom calls. We could offer guidance and peer support, we held our dementia group virtually too, and it also enables our clinical consultants to carry out virtual assessments.
“To ensure everyone could be part of this, we taught a lot of our residents, families and carers in using a laptop or tablet. It has been quite difficult for some people, particularly those who didn’t grow up with a computer or technology, but it’s been valuable.”
And while some ways of operation have had to change due to the pandemic, Sally credits the team at Stagenhoe and The Chantry as being central to the charity being able to continue its support for so many people.
“Our staff in both services have been phenomenal, they’ve supported each other while supporting our residents and I’m incredibly proud of the job they’ve done. We’re nothing without our staff and they are, and continue to be, outstanding,” adds Sally.
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