Posted on Tuesday 19 June 2018
Majella Brennan and PJ Watson
People with neurological problems like brain injury and stroke are being helped to avoid lengthy stays in hospital and specialist rehabilitation centres thanks to an innovative team of therapists from Guy’s and St Thomas’ NHS Foundation Trust.
In 2017, the South East London Neuro Navigation Service helped around 360 patients move smoothly through the different levels of care. This saved an estimated 4,800 bed days across several hospital and specialist rehabilitation centres in the south east.
Savings are achieved as neuro navigators, who are specially trained therapists from the Trust, work closely with ward staff, specialist centres and social care providers to get patients the right rehabilitation service at the right time. The team care for patients living in Lambeth, Southwark, Lewisham, Greenwich, Bexley and Bromley.
PJ Watson, 26, from Deptford Surrey Quays, suffered a brain injury following a car accident near Southampton in May 2016. PJ, who was a passenger in the vehicle, was in a coma for six weeks and spent time in intensive care at University Hospital Southampton NHS Foundation Trust. After transferring to Lewisham Hospital, PJ was supported by the neuro navigators from Guy’s and St Thomas’ to obtain the neuro-rehabilitation services he needed.
PJ’s mother, Cherie Jordan, says: “When PJ got home he wasn’t keen to go back to another rehabilitation centre but Majella Brennan, the neuro navigator from Guy’s and St Thomas’, persevered with him.
“Majella said ‘he’s a young man and has lots of potential’. She knew he needed more input from the occupational therapists, physiotherapists and speech and language therapists at Blackheath Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre.
“She wanted him to be more independent – able to move between his bed and the chair on his own, to practise getting about in and out of his wheelchair and able to get himself washed and dressed.
“PJ still can’t walk very well but he has come a long way. You just have to see how he was in intensive care, with the breathing tubes and everything, and how he is now.
“Majella is a wonderful girl. She talks to us and we feel like we are included in what’s going on.”
PJ Watson says of Majella, who arranged for him to get 10 weeks of rehabilitation at the Blackheath Brain Injury Rehabilitation Centre: “She’s really good. I wouldn’t change her for anything.”
Heather Campbell, Head of Neurorehabilitation Service at Guy’s and St Thomas’, says: “If a patient is referred early enough, we can ensure that their needs are being met by the right service at the right time.
“Before we had the neuro navigator role it was possible for patients to stay for long periods in hospital, without any kind of rehabilitation. Now our team are working with hospital and specialist centre staff to get patients moved on efficiently and smoothly, so they can get on with the next stage of their lives.
“A lot of what we do is working behind the scenes so patients get the right care. We’re the link between the specialist services for example, the ward staff, discharge team and carer. It’s about providing the right advice to families and advocating on the patient’s behalf. For some patients being encouraged to carry out daily grooming tasks or getting in and out of a wheelchair on their own can have a huge impact on their lives.”
Referrals to the service are made by health professionals.