Building on its success as an inpatient unit, Peartree House is now a rapidly-growing community care and neuro-rehab provider, supporting people with brain injury and neurological conditions across the country to regain independence and quality of life.
NR Times learns more about its ethos, its focus on supporting people, and how its specialism within brain injury care is helping to change lives
From meeting a need in the local community for specialist neuro-rehabilitation for adults of all ages has come a thriving specialist care provider delivering at-home support nationally, delivering often life-changing outcomes for clients.
Peartree House opened in 1996 in Southampton to help deliver an appropriate pathway for people with brain injury after being discharged from an acute setting.
Since then, the residential unit – under the leadership of managing director Remi Katsande – has grown to support people from a wide geographical area in their rehabilitation, including re-integration back into independent life.
But its most significant and ongoing expansion has been in its community care, with that part of the business continuing to grow strongly on a national basis, delivering at-home care packages to people with brain injury, neurological conditions and complex needs.
And the support it provides to clients, geared around maximising their independence, can deliver outcomes some thought may never be possible.
Such as for the man who had not been out of his home in 20 years, but now visits his local sea front for an ice cream with the support of his Peartree care team.
Or for the teenagers who benefit from Peartree’s vocational rehabilitation, to get them back into the workplace or education after brain injury.
“These are really life-changing moments, but what we do is all about promoting independence and promoting recovery,” says Caroline Watts, community services manager at Peartree.
“Every person we work with is so different, so every package of care is so different and so personalised. We build the package with the right staff, the right support plans, the right risk assessments around the person. It’s totally bespoke and about what is in the best interests of the client – and for us as a team, it’s hugely rewarding.”
Bespoke support for younger people
While clients are of all ages, Peartree’s origins in supporting young people continue to be a particular focus for the provider, with dedicated and bespoke care for that younger age bracket at a premium.
“Provision for younger adults with brain injuries or neuro conditions was a real challenge back when Peartree House opened, but we still hear some of the same things today. There can be a huge age difference in some settings, young people are being put into care homes where there is a very different clientele,” says Caroline, who is from a nursing background and was most recently a matron in a neuro-rehab service before joining Peartree.
“But with our community work, where possible, we want to keep them in their own homes with their parents of families, or get them back to college or work with our vocational rehabilitation.
“We have some really young patients with us at the minute, who are 18 and 19, and we really place focus on what is happening in their lives, what they will want to achieve. These are young people for whom getting their lives back is very important.
“Through our multi-disciplinary packages which help their recovery after being in hospital, we promote independence and can help them reach that stage where they are just a young person who has friends and goes to college. We can help them find normality again, that is a huge part of what we help with, the integration back into daily life.”
Peartree House was established in 1996 to bring much-needed options to people needing a pathway back into the community and independent living after brain injury.
The 30-bed unit, in Bitterne, has an in-house multi-disciplinary team to deliver the whole spectrum of therapies to clients. Referrals come from across Hampshire, Dorset, Wiltshire and Sussex.
“We have the full MDT on site, so offer that real holistic, integrated approach. Often, providers who offer therapy don’t have nursing expertise and inputs, which we do,” says Caroline.
“We have a really good mix of everything – we have psychology, speech and language therapists, physiotherapy, Occupational Therapy, as well as really highly skilled rehab assistants.
“For many of our clients, this is the first step on the journey towards getting back into the community and re-integration. Peartree House is important in enabling early discharge from hospital, but also we have a role to play in terms of supporting early discharge from Peartree into the community. The flexibility we have here can be really important in the bespoke rehabilitation of each and every individual.
“Once they reach a stage where they can move into the community, that is where our community team can come in, if necessary, and I think that’s the beauty of it.
“We can continue that support in a setting where they are with their families with therapist they already know (added this), but having the inpatient unit as the backup also provides a safety net, in case we do need it for clients.”
The growth of community care
Building on the reputation of the Peartree House unit, its community arm, which delivers a wide range of specialist support – from 24-hour live-in care through to a minimum of six hours a day of care, bespoke therapy or both – is gaining a reputation for its specialism in its own right.
“There is a big focus on community care, especially post-COVID with people wanting to stay in their own homes, and the ability to support early discharge from hospital,” says Caroline.
“There has always been a big need for that, but particularly since COVID. I remember that well from working on the acute side, but the need is only increasing. We provide an option for people to come out of hospital and into the community, where they are supported in a way that is very safe and holistic.”
And the MDT expertise which has been present in the inpatient setting also runs through its community care, with the whole range of therapies available to clients.
“We have all of the specialisms in our team, so we don’t need to outsource anything. We even have construction people in our team, in case any property adaptations are needed, we can do that too,” says Caroline.
Expanding strongly nationally, the focus of its ongoing recruitment is on adding specialists in neurological care and neuro-rehabilitation to its team.
“Our team is skilled and experienced specifically in brain injury, whether that be challenging behaviour or the medical challenges that come with that. We have a real understanding of this, which is vital,” says Caroline.
“All of our staff our specifically trained and we offer very comprehensive induction and training in brain injury and other neuro conditions, to ensure we have the staff with the right skills and experience to support all of our clients with a range of challenges.
“We are committed to offering really high standards of care and boosting quality of life. Whether that is for those people who are thriving in their recovery, or for those who may not make a full recovery, we will do our utmost to ensure their quality of life.
“There is a gentleman who springs to mind who had a lot of care companies who weren’t specialists in brain injury, and maybe weren’t as understanding of his behaviour and needs, who in the last six months has left his house for the first time in 20 years to go to the sea front. That is because our team are committed to achieving the best possible quality of life they can.
“Will this man get better in terms of his recovery? Sadly not. But can we still really support their families and give back quality of life and allow them to be a family again, and build trust and give reassurance? Yes, absolutely.
“And that is the importance of specialist care by specialists.”
Going forward, recruitment is a priority as the business continues to grow, adding national resource to its community team, while maintaining the service delivered by Peartree House itself.
“There is absolutely the need for the inpatient unit, we have 30 beds and they are all full, and we are providing a specialist, intensive service to those people,” says Caroline.
“But there is a great demand for community-based care, so people can stay in their own homes and with their families. We are seeing the community service as the fastest-growing and biggest demand currently, but there’s definitely a need for both.
“We are also looking at the possibility of having smaller, independent living flats that are appropriate for some of our clients, for example, some of the younger clients who may want to move out from their parents and experience some independent living, but need to do that in a supportive way.”
But for Peartree, alongside its ongoing growth, the focus will continue to be on achieving the life-changing outcomes for clients.
“We see some people who live in the community, who have lived with brain injury for years and we wish we had been able to support them sooner. The window for effective neuro-rehab is so small, but if you can work with people during that, you can achieve so much in a short space of time,” says Caroline.
“What we do is life-changing, and very rewarding for us as a team. Whether it is getting someone out for the first time in 20 years for an ice cream, or whether it’s watching someone take their first steps or be able to sit on the floor and play with their child again, or say their first words or eat their first meal.
“There are all of these things that we take for granted day in, day out, but when we can help our clients achieve this is a massive step in their lives. It’s so rewarding to be part of that.”
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