The Parkinson’s Service at UHDB has been recognised internationally as providing ‘outstanding’ care by becoming one of 47 in the world to be designated as a Parkinson’s Foundation Centre of Excellence.
This comes after an inspection by the Parkinson’s Foundation carried out in October 2019, and is the second time the service has been awarded this prestigious accolade. This also makes the Trust one of just two Centres of Excellence in the UK, with only 14 centres outside of America.
Dr Rob Skelly, Consultant Physician working in the Parkinson’s team, said that the process was a tough but beneficial one, for both the assessors and the team:
“It’s a really good achievement for us. Lots of the other Centres of Excellence are big, research units, and due to our size we can’t compete with them in this respect. So our recognition is all about providing excellent clinical care to our patients. It really puts us on the map and is fantastic for our patients.
“This whole process made us look closely at what exactly it is that we’re doing well, and there are a lot of examples of this. It was a very useful process for us.”
Fiona Lindop, Specialist Physiotherapist in the team, which is based at London Road Community Hospital and Royal Derby Hospital, said it was a joyous moment when she discovered the news:
“We had all worked so hard to achieve this revalidation and waited for a while for the outcome. I had just taken some annual leave and was away on holiday with my family when I found out, and I was jumping up and down when I heard the news!”
The assessors from the Parkinson’s Foundation highlighted several areas in which the team are excelling, including regular audits to improve their work, excellent teamwork, a state-of-the-art gait lab, education for staff and patients and the multi-disciplinary team approach taken towards caring for our patients.
Dr Skelly continued: “We have an (MDT) approach to working and this really benefits our patients. It means that they have every aspect of their care covered when they attend our clinics. Parkinson’s is not just a tremor, it affects your mental health, your ability to look after yourself and it’s a progressive disease so it gets worse as time goes on.
“There are a broad range of symptoms so patients need a team made up of a wide range of specialities to support them.
“We’ve actually expanded our team since our last assessment by including a Psychiatrist and Palliative Care Consultant, which not only helps our patients, but it’s helped us learn more about mental health and administering palliative care.
“We have a team meeting at the end of each clinic, so there’s lots of sharing of expertise and that’s been really useful. Most staff are on the same which is convenient for patients and we’ve successfully adapted this service during COVID to offer telephone and video consultations as well as face-to-face appointments to ensure that we continue to deliver high quality care and put our patients first.”
Parkinson’s disease is a degenerative neurological condition where cells in the part of the brain, called the substantia nigra, start to wear out. The three main symptoms are often involuntary shaking (tremor) of parts of the body, slower movement and stiffness or inflexible muscles. However, symptoms can be wide ranging and can include memory loss, depression or anxiety or trouble sleeping.
The cause of the loss of cells is not yet known, but it is thought to be a combination of genetic and environmental factors and affects around one in every 500 people.
Fiona believes that the Parkinson’s Foundation Centre of Excellence designation will benefit patients as they will feel more at ease knowing they’re receiving the best possible care: “This accreditation provides a real sense of reassurance for our patients. If you do have this condition, it’s good that we’re here to help you. We’re all aiming for the same thing and that is helping our patients to live as independently as possible.
“It’s not just patients from Derbyshire and Staffordshire that we help, as we often have patients contact us from miles away after finding out about our service online.”
The team are also actively involved in an increasing amount of research projects, with exercise being a key focus as studies have shown this can be very beneficial to those living with the condition.
Dr Skelly said: “We are becoming more involved in research and recently contributed to the N3IPD trial which was funded by the Michael J Fox Foundation. We have managed to recruit a good amount of patients on to this study and are currently awaiting the results of this.”
Neil Radford, Divisional Director of Medicine at UHDB, said: “This is a fantastic achievement. What is so impressive is not only has the team achieved this status, but they have done it for a second time, which really underlines the excellent, comprehensive service for our patients with Parkinson’s disease. It is wonderful to see this recognised internationally, well and truly putting UHDB on the map. Well done to the whole team.”
The Parkisons' Team during the visit by assessors from the Parkinson's Foundation
Please note: this picture was taken in October 2019 prior to the introduction of social distancing measures