A PASSIONATE Parkinson’s team of hospital staff from across two Teesside trusts has been honoured for a second time, following the success of a groundbreaking new unit.
The Parkinson’s Advanced Symptom Unit (PASU), based at Redcar Primary Care Hospital, is the first of its kind in the UK, combining the expertise of clinicians from South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust with mental health specialists from Tees Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust.
It provides a dedicated service to Parkinson’s patients and their families across the region, when they are at their most vulnerable.
Impaired movement, dementia and psychosis are just some of the complex physical and mental symptoms which Parkinson’s sufferers may begin to experience as part of their condition.
All of these can be extremely distressing both for the patient and their family, but by bringing specialists from the local mental health trust together with neurologists, specialist nurses and dedicated pharmacy and physiotherapy staff from South Tees, PASU ensures rapid access to a range of services and support.
This, in turn, has shown to decrease emergency admissions and improve management of mental health symptoms amongst patients across the region.
In recognition, PASU received the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network’s award for outstanding services at the Positive Steps in Parkinson’s conference in Leicestershire.
Hosted by journalist and television presenter John Stapleton, the awards – also the first of their kind for the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network – aim to recognise and celebrate exceptional services that make a difference to people in the UK affected by Parkinson’s.
Judges, including a panel of Parkinson’s health and service professionals alongside people with the condition, praised the unit as a “one-stop shop” for people with Parkinson’s who have complex needs, and its “tremendous success” in “improving the quality of life for patients and reducing strain on their carers”.
Neil Archibald, Consultant Neurologist at PASU and The James Cook University Hospital in Middlesbrough, said: “We are delighted to be able to provide this vital community service on behalf of some of the most vulnerable patients in our local area.
“Many of our PASU patients come to us when they are experiencing a high degree of distress, requiring access to our services in a crisis; whether their symptoms are physical or mental.
“Yet when the unit opened less than eighteen months ago, combining specialists from mental health services and an acute hospital trust for the dedicated treatment of Parkinson’s patients was a groundbreaking idea.”
Dr Achibald adds he is “happy to say” other trusts across the country are now looking to replicate PASU’s model, adding: “PASU has proven to be a vital lifeline to the many patients who now benefit from the service.
“I’m pleased to see other acute hospital trusts across the country are now looking to create their own partnerships with their local mental health services for the benefit of their own patients with Parkinson’s Disease. I believe this is vital if we are to provide a holistic service to those, most vulnerable patients and their families.”
Nina Williams, community psychiatric nurse, at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust, Roseberry Park, Middlesbrough, said: “We’re delighted the work of the PASU team has been recognised by UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network through this award.
“By working together, the teams at Tees, Esk and Wear Valleys NHS Foundation Trust and South Tees Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust are having a positive impact on the physical and mental health of people living with Parkinson’s.”
Professor David Burn, Clinical Director of the UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network, agreed: “By coming forward to share its innovations, it [PASU] will have encouraged others to adopt similar improvements – meaning better services for those affected by Parkinson’s across the UK.”
“It is wonderful to be able to highlight and celebrate some of the fantastic services that support people with Parkinson’s every day,” said Professor Burn.
“We were overwhelmed by the quality of entries and I would like to congratulate the Parkinson’s Advanced Symptom Unit on its success in the first ever year of our awards.”
The UK Parkinson’s Excellence Network was established in 2015 by the charity Parkinson’s UK alongside leading clinicians, to drive improvements in Parkinson’s care.
It aims to achieve consistent, high quality Parkinson’s services in the UK by sharing evidence, training and tools to support best practice and opportunities for collaboration.
It also ensures people affected by Parkinson’s are at the forefront, helping to shape service improvement.
About Parkinson’s Disease
Every hour, someone in the UK is told they have Parkinson’s, a condition which affects 127,000 people in the UK – about one in 500 of the population.
Parkinson’s is a degenerative neurological condition, for which there currently is no cure.
The main symptoms of the condition are tremor, slowness of movement and rigidity.
Symptoms vary from person to person, so people with Parkinson’s can benefit hugely from local groups which provide support and an opportunity to share experiences with others in a similar situation.
More Information is available from Parkinson’s UK at www.parkinsons.org.uk.
The charity also operates a free, confidential helpline on 0808 800 0303