Chase Park Rehabilitation Centre was developed in response to the needs of clients with slow stream community rehabilitation and complex care requirements.

Before opening the centre, Whickham Villa ran a young person’s physical disability unit. This catered for people with brain and spinal injuries, as well as long term neurological conditions.

In providing care for this client group a number of trends emerged.

  • First, there were a number of clients who could benefit from the provision of more intensive rehabilitation than the existing services were able to provide.
  • Second, it emerged there were virtually no accessible leisure facilities for people with complex disabilities in the area.

Taking this information into account, the decision was made to develop new facilities and services that would be tailored to meet the needs and expectations of these clients and their families.

The proposal was to develop a specialist community based Step Forward neuro rehabilitation centre and a health club that would be designed specifically with the needs of those with physical, perceptual, visual and cognitive disabilities in mind.

The design brief for the new facility was created by chief executive Boda Gallon and clinical director Vicki Gilman with a number of existing clients. This design brief then evolved into a blueprint for two entirely new services - CPRC and Whickham Villa Health Club.

The new facilities were developed on the existing site at a capital cost £1.2m.  There were significant additional costs incurred as we needed to create an entire new team that could deliver care, rehabilitation and leisure services to a level that matched the new facilities.

Initially, the targets were to develop an aspirational service that was uplifting and an environment where people felt they could progress in a facility that would provide a more “normal” context for their rehabilitation and lifestyle choices. This would break down cultural barriers, provide sustainable results, reduce social isolation and facilitate smoother community transitions.

A further target was to develop a reputation for innovation and to seek third party accreditation for the new service.

The first part of this target was achieved when the new development won Pinder’s/Caring Business award for Best New Specialist Healthcare Development  in 2007. Recently, CPRC was chosen by the brain injury association Headway as one of 10 national pilots for its accredited provider scheme. 

In order to achieve the initial aims of the project, the actual model of service provision and approach to rehabilitation and care had to be altered significantly.

One of the key areas for new development was in terms of staff development. The ethos and culture of the new service needed to be one of hospitality and customer service alongside excellent healthcare. This meant a new approach had to be adopted in terms of training and recruiting staff. This was vital to fulfil the potential of the health club and CPRC as an aspirational service.

A hospitality assured quality programme is currently being implemented, which is usually used in the leisure and hotel industry, in addition to more care-orientated quality assurance programmes already in place.

The strategy of combining hospitality related programmes has proved successful as CPRC was awarded an “excellent” rating by the Care Quality Commission.

A challenge still remains, however, in providing outcome data to commissioners on which they can make informed world class commissioning decisions.

In an effort to capture evidence on rehabilitation at CPRC, an approach was made to the North East Neuro Sciences Network. The NENN is a commissioning network that is led by the neuro commissioners from the four North Eastern primary care organisations.

The network has now established a sub-group tasked with developing a toolkit that will capture person reported outcome measures and encourage evidence-based practice in NHS, local authority, private and third sector organisations.

This toolkit will be used by commissioners, health professionals, clients using services and carers. The idea is that the toolkit will help to drive up standards, gather evidence and capture person-reported outcome measures.

It was a challenge to provide evidence of the benefits of socialised rehabilitation at CPRC and the health club environment. However, a partnership approach through the NENN should begin to produce meaningful data and evidence this year.