STROLLING through the modern centre’s corridors with Barbara Munford, PA to a professor and a consultant at the centre, and Helen Tridgell, head of marketing and fundraising, I quickly saw why the centre was so effective at helping people to regain their confidence as well as their physical abilities.
Whilst many service users need the assistance of a support worker to move around, all service users who are able to, can access the facilities independently, feeling secure that many specialist staff are on hand.
Barbara and I passed a man standing with a walking stick who said ‘hello’ and as Barbara encouraged him that he had made some great progress, he smiled and said, “I don’t use my wheelchair when I’m indoors anymore.”
The residential rooms range from en suite bedrooms, to flats for those who can cook and clean for themselves, to bungalows which allow residents to feel as self reliant as possible in the last stages of their stay at Kerwin Court.
As we wandered around the dining room, lounge, games room, laundry room, and physiotherapy room, which are set in a square of buildings encircling a smart courtyard, Barbara and Helen spoke of the successes of previous service users.
In 2008, Kerry Ellis, 26, collapsed at work and was diagnosed with encephalitis, a rare virus that causes swelling in the brain resulting in a lack of muscle co-ordination.
She lost her ability to move or speak normally but after just seven months at Kerwin Court she was well enough to return to her family home and, four months later, she returned to work and is now living independently.
Research has shown that if someone can come into rehabilitation six months to one year after their accident, it can save £1 million of care costs over their lifetime.
“Most of the time people will come straight from hospital as that’ll be when they make their best progress,” Helen said, “and then they can go back to contributing to their community.”
BIRT is organising various events around the country to raise awareness of the causes and affects of brain injury during Brain Injury Awareness Week which runs from Monday May 14 to Friday 18.
Information packs are currently being sent out to local nursery schools for a campaign entitled ‘Look after Your Ted’ which highlights the importance of wearing cycle helmets.
Staff and service users will also be found at the bandstand in the Carfax on Thursday May 17 where they will be handing out literature and running a children’s competition for which a cycle helmet has been donated by Southwater Cycles.
For more information about the work of the Kerwin Court, BIRT and the Disabilities Trust visit the website at www.thedtgroup.org.