Enhancements in Croydon stroke care win national award | Trust news

Enhancements in Croydon stroke care win national award

A research project called CREATE has won a national UK Stroke Forum prize for enhancements it has supported in Croydon University Hospital’s ‘Heathfield 1’ ward and in three other stroke wards in London and Yorkshire.

The changes made in 2018 have been welcomed by Croydon’s stroke patients and some seem to recuperate more quickly within its new, more stimulating environment.

They now benefit from a weekend exercise group, in-ward concerts and drop-in sessions from the Stroke Association charity.
Other innovations in the Croydon ward include patients getting more information and more opportunities to talk and even play together amid attractive wall murals. Soon there will also be a special therapy dog and fun acting sessions. Last year the ward featured on ITV TV News for using virtual reality and movement sensor technology to help patients recover strength and coordination.

The prize was for ‘Patient, Carer And Public Involvement’ and was awarded at the Stroke Forum Conference in December, run by the Stroke Association and the British Association of Stroke Physicians.
Dr Karen Kee, a Consultant Stroke Physician in Heathfield 1, said:
“Having a stroke can be devastating for someone and for their loved ones. We’ve learned that a humdrum, basic ward environment isn’t always stimulating enough to provide the best stroke rehabilitation, so we’ve made it more dynamic – and it works! Our ward is still relaxing and comfortable but patients can also be more involved in their recovery.”
Dr Karolina Gombert, the lead CREATE researcher on this Heathfield 1 project based at Kingston and St George’s University Joint Faculty, said:
“It’s been fantastic to share expertise with such a positive ward and to see what we can achieve together. This is a great partnership between different organisations and – most importantly of all – with patients.”   
Geoffrey Charman (age 72, from Purley), a Heathfield 1 patient who was well enough to return home early in January, said:

“My stroke-related fall left me badly bruised and using a wheelchair. I’m now standing and able to get on with my life, thanks to the wonderful hospital staff. The special activities helped me cope and get my independence back. I think they are a great idea.”
CREATE (Collaborative Rehabilitation Environments in Acute sTrokE) is a team of clinical and social science researchers who will continue to work with Heathfield 1 in 2019. They are spread across four NHS sites in London and Yorkshire, researching new ways to provide a useful ward environment. Their work is funded by the NIHR (National Institute of Health Research), which will share the findings across the NHS to help other boroughs follow Croydon’s example.
The full range of changes made in Heathfield 1 are:

For enhancing communication:

  • Stroke Association drop-in sessions to answer questions and offer support.
  • A detailed ward web page.
  • A lively new “Welcome To Heathfield 1” leaflet to start patients’ stay the right way, including aphasia-friendly content.
  • A public timetable for common room, supporting patient activities.

For enhancing the environment:

  • Activities boxes and collapsible tables in the bays.
  • Redesign of the day room and kitchenette including attractive mural.
  • Redesign of therapy gym.
  • Books and games donations.

Providing activities:

  • A trained therapy dog to comfort patients and support interaction (coming soon).
  • An exercise group on the weekends.
  • A reading group.
  • ‘InterACT’ acting sessions (coming soon).
  • Concerts (by Croydon Arts&Music and the BRIT school).
  • A helpful list of Apps useful to patients.


  • In the photograph you can see: Heathfield 1 clinicians Caroline Whittaker (Therapy Practitioner) on the left and Felicia Motcho (Occupational Therapist) on the right are joined by patients Rathakrisna Pathmathie and Geoffrey Charman after a half-hour session of rehabilitative exercises.
  • Croydon Health Services NHS Trust runs two hospitals in Croydon as well as providing community health services at home, in schools and in 15 health centres across the borough.
  • The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is the nation's largest funder of health and care research. It was established in 2006 to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research, and is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. In addition to its national role, the NIHR commissions applied health research to benefit the poorest people in low- and middle-income countries, using Official Development Assistance funding.


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