Delivering for our community

With the NHS under increasing pressure, the challenges facing the UK’s health services have never been greater. 

The scale of the task needs a new approach so our Health, Wellbeing and Care Hub brings our expertise and public facing services together in one place. 

Along with training up the next generation of healthcare experts, the Hub will have an immediate impact on healthcare services in the region by offering a range of clinics in a bid to ensure people access the right care as quickly as possible.

A place for treatment, learning and research

The Hub, which is based at the new Clingoe House on Parkside, will focus on three founding principles to ensure it can meet the demands of modern-day healthcare.

It’s through student placements, along with support from academics, that the Hub will provide its key function of serving the community.

The Hub will build on Essex's proud history of serving and working in the community. Along with launching new projects, existing services run by the Babylab and our Neurology experts will be joining the Hub.

Other services include falls prevention and splinting.

Professor Victoria Joffe, Dean of Integrated Health and Care Partnerships at Essex, said: “We will be talking and listening to people in the community, finding out what their needs are that are not being currently serviced and that’s where will come in.

"Of course, those services will be run by our students with staff supervision.”

From a student perspective, the Hub will maintain a continued workforce pipeline for the future generations of health and social care practitioners.

Students using the facilities will have access to high-quality opportunities for clinical placements, allowing them to hone their skills and give them real-world experience that will better prepare them for their careers.

The Hub will also combine services with clinical research, with academics supporting partners in using data that is routinely collected on patients; finding out how it can be better used to shape services.

Research carried out at the Hub will help shape future interventions and treatments, leading to new and innovative techniques in the regional healthcare system.

'You are not alone'

Essex launched its online Neuro-rehab Clinic in lockdown in a bid to provide support to people suffering from the impact of traumatic brain injuries and strokes.

Students have been running one-on-one and group sessions for patients who suffer with cognitive or emotional complications, as well as physical conditions such as paralysis.

The success of the Clinic has seen it continue beyond lockdown, and it now provides support to around six patients each week.

Patients are given the chance to set their own rehab goals and targets during sessions, while working on skills such as fatigue management and memory strategies.

The online clinics will now be permanently hosted from within the hub, with students able to telecast the sessions using state-of-the-art equipment.

“When you acquire a brain injury, you feel isolated and disconnected with the world," says Professor Andrew Bateman, the founder of the Neuro-rehab Clinic.

"The hub will create a sense of a therapeutic community as it will bring people together and show them they aren’t alone.”

It is hoped face-to-face appointments will soon be offered by the Clinic, with patients given access to advanced technology such as electrical stimulation and prosthetics.

 “The Hub has enabled a significant evolution of the Clinic,” adds Professor Bateman.

“Our aim is to become a specialist provider that offers expertise in neurological conditions and support that is not available anywhere else in the region."

The Hub is in the process of securing further state-of-the-art technology to support neuro-rehab patients which will see patients offered the chance to use augmented reality as part of their ongoing treatment.

The ambitious vision for the Neuro-rehab Clinic will also see plans drawn up to widen the scope of its services, meaning it will one day look to provide support to patients with other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s.

The psychology of babies

Essex’s Babylab has been carrying out non-invasive research into all aspects of child development since 2014.

Academics from the Department of Psychology have been providing support and advice to parents alongside healthcare professionals, while carrying out extensive research into a number of areas, such as how infants learn to copy others, develop language and how they understand the world and process social stimuli such as body and faces.

The Babylab will be running coffee mornings from the Hub to allow parents the chance to discuss the development of their infant with researchers and professionals.

The coffee mornings will cover different topics that are especially of interest to parents of young babies, such as sleep, eating and language development.

Dr Silvia Rigato, who is part of the Babylab team, is hopeful the move to the Hub will enable researchers to connect with more people in the community.  

She said: “We hope it will become a reference point for parents and professionals, a friendly and accessible space where people not only share and learn about baby development, but also a place where researchers have the opportunity to better understand how parents could benefit from lab research, and students can develop transferable and employability skills.”

Tackling the speech and language crisis

Speech and language services will be available from the Hub as part of Essex's commitment to responding to community need.

With frightening statistics showing 70 per cent of people in young offenders institutes struggle with speech and language skills, students and academics will be aiming to deliver a range of support for those in adolescence.

“Once you reach secondary school, the support from a speech and language perspective all-but stops,” says Professor Joffe, a speech and language therapist.

“What we want to do is fill this large gap by giving young people the life skills they need not just to plan and prepare, but ultimately succeed and be happy.”

Along with providing direct one-to-one support from the Hub, Essex plans to run outreach services with charities and organisations providing speech and language support in the North Essex and East Suffolk areas.

This will ensure as many people as possible have access to speech and language support, particularly in low-income areas where there is a higher percentage of young people with issues.

Other support which will be offered from the Hub includes Makaton training for parents and children, upskilling workforces, such as teachers, on speech and language techniques.

Plans are also in place to provide support to families of children awaiting autism diagnosis, which can take up to two years.

Professor Joffe added: “Our students are going to be at the front of these services, providing direct support to those who need it while gaining valuable experience in the process."

“We will be doing something on a scale that hasn’t been done in this country before and I’m very excited to get started.”

Professor Victoria Joffe

An ambitious future

Emma Blowers, who has 15 years of experience of working in acute and community NHS providers, will be responsible for leading the Hub forward in her role as manager.

It is hoped the Hub will be able to expand its services further in the coming years, offering a wider range of healthcare options as it forms additional partnerships with the NHS and other providers.

“I see the Hub as a pivotal step in transforming the way we offer education and training to our student, registered and non-registered health and social care workforce both locally and nationally,” says Emma, who herself is a chartered physiotherapist.

“By exploring research opportunities that focus on tackling public health inequalities we can really make a commitment to the shared focus on action to advance preventative medicine and promote wellbeing, as well as treating poor health.

“My ambition is for the Hub to become an internationally recognised centre of excellence in education, training, research and development of health and social care services.”

Find out more

Health, Wellbeing and Care Hub

Health, Wellbeing and Care Hub

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