Registered Manager, Oak Vale Gardens
Different health service providers are working together to transform the lives of patients with acquired brain injuries and progressive neurological conditions.
Michelle Montrose knows the power of collaborative working in rehabilitative care settings. When different clinicians and therapists pull together, she says, it can transform patients’ lives.
Montrose is the Registered Manager at Priory Oak Vale Gardens, a Liverpool-based centre providing extended inpatient rehabilitation care for people with an acquired brain injury or complex and progressive neurological conditions.
“We work collaboratively in two different ways,” she explains. “First of all, we’re part of the Cheshire and Merseyside Rehabilitation Network, working with NHS trusts and hospitals to provide a pathway of care for people who require active and specialist rehabilitation at various stages of acuity. Secondly, there’s the internal collaboration that goes on within our own unit, so that everyone who works here is involved in some element of a person’s rehabilitation journey.”
When a patient is referred to us from another service, good communication and information sharing ensures the handover goes smoothly.
Taking a person-centred approach
That means every member of staff has their part to play. “It includes everyone from our experienced nurses to the person who does the laundry, to our chef who works closely with our speech and language therapists to provide the right type of meals for individual patients,” says Montrose.
“As a centre, we also work closely with a number of specialist community clinicians, such as a diabetic specialist nurse and podiatrists.” Rehabilitation isn’t a one-size-fits-all process (“What might work for one patient might not work for another,” says Montrose), so this person-centred care approach isn’t just preferable. It’s vital.
Collaboration also ensures continuity of care, which benefits the patient’s family. “It means family members can receive advice and support about the next stage of their loved one’s rehabilitation journey, and have confidence that healthcare professionals are making the best decisions for the patient,” explains Montrose. And, of course, this seamless way of working is also helpful to staff. “When a patient is referred to us from another service, good communication and information sharing ensures the handover goes smoothly,” says Montrose. “Plus, it allows staff in both locations to have back and forth conversations to share information and learnings.”
Making a real difference to patient recovery
Montrose has seen the positive results of collaborative working with her own eyes. She mentions one patient who, after a severe brain injury, was admitted to Oak Vale Gardens in a state of low awareness. On the occasions when they were more alert, they weren’t able to understand where they were or why they were being provided with personal care. They weren’t eating either, and the team struggled to make any kind of breakthrough.
However, persistence and, crucially, teamwork, paid off, says Montrose. “The consultant liaised closely with our nursing team and local GP practice, our therapists from different disciplines worked together, and commissioners gave their support by funding specialist neuromusic therapy.
“As a result of these actions, the patient’s life was turned around. In fact, we’re now working with community services and planning for this person to go home. Yes, they will always need 24-hour care — but they are eating, drinking and responding to people in a way that was unimaginable before. That’s incredibly gratifying.”