Neurological care provider Sue Ryder is drawing up plans to increase its neuro-rehab provision in the South East of England, in response to the growing demand for its specialist resources.
Its neurological care and rehab centre, The Chantry, is one of limited number of resources in the area to deliver Level 2 rehabilitation, and from its site in Ipswich, takes in patients from across Suffolk, Hertfordshire, Essex and Sussex.
However, having doubled its Level 2 beds from three to six, the demand for its acute rehab far exceeds availability – and while further current expansion is curtailed by the size of the building, in the longer-term, the team hope to develop provision further.
In the nearer future, The Chantry is looking at ways to accept more people into its slow-stream rehab service and also look at outpatient and community care services, to help meet demand in an area where the need is particularly high.
The charity recently held an event, Establishing Effective Neurorehabilitation Services, which explored how providers and Commissioners could maximise opportunities.
“We came away from that buzzing with thoughts of what we wanted to do, and what Sue Ryder wants to do, and that is give more care to more people,” Dr Kirsty Kirk, head of clinical services at The Chantry, told NR Times.
“We do have a waiting list and demand for our beds has always been high, as we’re quite unique in this area, but over time demand for this service has changed, and we’re being approached by Commissioners from a wide area.
“The long-term plans are most definitely to grow that (Level 2) service, but we’re constrained by the building, so that will take a bit of planning.
“But with our slow-stream neuro-rehab, we do have more opportunity to look at what more we could do. That is a slightly longer journey at six to 12 months, and while we’re currently at capacity, probably in the short- to medium-term, we’ll look at a plan around how we can increase resources.
“I’d also love to see us reach out into the community, supporting people after they leave our rehab support. This is all very much needed.”
The lack of specialist inpatient resource across the country has led to a significant increase in the need for community and at-home support.
To help meet that, in conjunction with The Chantry’s sister service, Stagenhoe in Hertfordshire, it is looking at what more can be offered.
“We will continue to take the acute, very complex cases at The Chantry, as we offer specialist neurological care and do it very well – but we can look at what we can offer in other settings,” says Dr Kirk, who returned to frontline care in June 2020 after being inspired by the response of healthcare to the COVID-19 pandemic.
“There is a definite need and Sue Ryder is looking to address that need. We’ll look at the business case for more staff, more space, more resources, see what that would look like.
“But personally speaking, I’d love to look at outreach and even outpatient services, to see how we can extend our care to more people.
“The challenge with that currently is that it’s difficult to get the staff as the whole healthcare sector is tired after COVID, many people are tired or are leaving – but we’ll look at it and hopefully that’s a plan for the medium-term.”
As a key resource in the South East, The Chantry supports people aged 18 and over with brain injury and neurological conditions, through both its acute and slow-stream services, and continues to invest in therapy equipment to ensure it is delivering the best possible person-centred rehab.
“We are quite unique in this area as a specialist neuro-rehabilitation provider, and for us, it’s vital that we look at the needs of every individual,” says Dr Kirk, a nurse who has been professional lead in the Schools of Nursing and Midwifery in Cambridgeshire and Suffolk.
“It’s important that we gather information around each individual and their experience, not just biological and physiological, but around their goals and achievements too.
“It’s essential to work with MDT members to achieve that, I’m particularly proud of the good links we have – in addition to our dedicated team, which includes an occupational therapist, physiotherapist, rehab assistant and registered nurses, we have good links with a speech and language therapist, neuro-rehab consultation and local GPs.
“It’s that team focus, in addition to the quality of our therapy and the continued investment in what we offer, that makes us really stand out.”
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