A pilot scheme which aims to improve the lives of people living with neurological conditions has been hailed a huge success by staff, patients, and their families.
A collaboration between Cornwall Council’s Echo Day Centre in Liskeard, North and East Integrated Area Leadership Team, and the Trust’s Stroke and Neurological Community Team began a 14-week course in July for 15 patients. It is delivered once a week by Echo support workers and monitored by therapists from the Trust’s Stroke and Neurological Community Rehabilitation Team.
The funding for the pilot has been supported by Dr Andy Sant, Managing Director on behalf of the North and East Integrated Clinical Academic programme.
Patients take part in a range of activities which helps them gain the skills required to live more independently. The pilot scheme has been running for 7 weeks and staff have already witnessed a significant improvement across the group. The progress has also been noticeable when the patients go home to their families.
As well as the physical benefits, the weekly sessions have also given patients a massive mental boost.
Mike has been attending the course and he says his visits to the Echo Centre have given him something to look forward to.
“It means I get out and I meet people. If I sit indoors all day, I will not see anyone. I spent months on my own doing nothing, apart from watching television. This is a lot better. You lose your social skills, but it starts to come back once you start mixing with people. This does give you an incentive to get out.”
The pilot has also helped Robert achieve one of his goals, which is to start driving again.
“After having spinal surgery, I had a health review and now I can carry on driving. My wife has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease (COPD), and she has been really poorly. Because I am her carer, she can get anxious when I am not at home, but I can get around quicker now in the car. We do not see many people during the week, so to come here and make friends is really good. It is not all physical. If you aid the mental side, it helps the physical side.”
Debbie is another patient who says the course has made a significant difference to her everyday life, having achieved her own personal goals thanks to her weekly visits to the Echo Centre.
“It has been great really. I feel like I have come on loads. We have all made friends and it is nice. It will be nice after it has finished to still see each other. What I really like is seeing what we have all achieved since we started coming here. I could not do anything, but it has been really great. We are all reaching our goals, which is brilliant.”
The course has also received excellent feedback from those closest to the patients, their partners. Adrian is another of those who is benefiting from the programme and his wife, Carol, has noticed a significant improvement in his physical and mental wellbeing.
“It has been really good. Adrian is thinking more. He enjoys the games and things like that. It has made him more independent too. He was at a Parkinson’s group in Wadebridge, but that was only once a month for a few hours. He has always been a team player and has always played sports. He is very sociable, but he was at home watching TV. Whereas now he is here and engaging again. It is absolutely brilliant.”
Tony is another patient who has made excellent progress since the course began, and his wife Joy says she has noticed the improvement.
“I have seen the difference. He is enjoying it. The interaction with people, and he is a people person. It is just the variety of things they are doing. It is giving him a bit more motivation. Some people are in the same situation, so it is nice to compare and chat. He gets up in the morning and he enjoys coming.”
Angela Gibbon is a physiotherapist and trainee consultant practitioner in neurological rehabilitation for the Trust. She is also one of the project leads of the Echo partnership.
“We are 7 weeks into the project. It is going really well. All of the participants who are involved have given us some really good feedback. We have seen lots of people achieving their goals already. It has been fantastic.
“For the participants, the main aim for them is to become much more confident in managing their own conditions and in accessing the services that are available for them within their local communities. Such as voluntary sectors, local groups, local organisations they can access and be more socially active and less isolated.”
Lorna Searle is a team leader at the Echo Project and has witnessed what she feels has been a really special bond between the group which will last long after this course ends.
“Everything we ask them to do they are up for. They are all doing their takeaway tasks at home which is really good. The biggest thing for me is they have really bonded as a group. They are really working together and supporting each other.
“It is actually quite emotional to see how some people have grown and what they have done. With quite a lot of people we are having to set new goals because they are reaching them. It is amazing.
“We have a noticeboard with events that they can attend. Last week one of our patients went to a festival. We are going to start looking at what they can do when this ends. We are going to start talking about other groups they can attend as well as things like audiobooks. We are trying to give them ideas to carry on with something. Some of them have built friendships and they will actually see each other when it finishes.”
The pilot will continue to be evaluated and inform future service development.