Find out more about Letchworth's free treatment centre, as we chat to Clinical Services Manager, Lorraine Florence.
What is the Ernest Gardiner Treatment Centre?
The Ernest Gardiner Treatment Centre provides care to the residents of both Letchworth and Baldock. It’s funded by the Heritage Foundation and also supported by the League of Friends.
It’s actually been in existence for 34 years and was formerly a Day Hospital. As more people regularly attended the Day Hospital, an opportunity to provide support and treatment for various conditions became apparent. This change was gradual and the prospect to treat the younger age group of this demographic area also became evident, therefore in 2013 we became the Treatment Centre.
What types of treatment does it provide?
A variety of treatments and assessments are delivered by professionally trained staff, registered with appropriate governing bodies. This includes blood tests, wound care, ear irrigation and early venous insufficiency detection (which is not provided elsewhere in the locality). Our two qualified nurses, myself included, also specialise in leg ulcer care.
Our Physio department is very busy, treating people for musculoskeletal conditions, as well as hip and knee rehabilitation, whilst additionally our Occupational Therapy (OT) department deliver hand therapy in our clinics. All of these treatments help people regain strength, mobility and independence following various medical conditions. Together the three disciplines provide assessments and rehabilitation for people who have experienced either a fall or a neurological condition that’s effecting someone’s quality of life.
And it’s not just all carried out in the Treatment Centre either, our OT’s provide home visits, to assess people’s homes and request equipment for them by working with local multi-disciplinary agencies, to help them maintain independence and safety in their home.
How does it work alongside GP surgeries?
Whist we’re not an NHS service, we do see NHS patients and work closely with GP surgeries and healthcare professionals, who can refer patients to us. This is an incredibly useful service for the town to have, especially with NHS waiting times being so lengthy.
Over the years, we’ve found that many patients actually prefer being referred to us as they know they’ll see the same faces on a consistent basis. This helps us build a rapport with patients and also means we are well placed to notice if there are signs that something is wrong, or if they aren’t themselves.
How do people react when they find out about the Treatment Centre and how it’s managed by the Heritage Foundation?
People quite often say: “I’ve lived here for years and didn’t know you were here”, which is quite surprising in a way, as people do give such positive feedback. Patients are always very grateful that we’re here and we do have a very strong relationship with our patients.
What is also a blessing is the Heritage Foundation also provide the minibus fleet. They’re vital in helping people get around town, which includes getting those housebound people to the treatment centre. That’s something patients also really appreciate.
Patient feedback is always very good, why do you think that it?
All the staff at the Treatment Centre have the same mind-set – all wanting the best for patients, to provide the best service possible and place a priority on patient safety and happiness. The staff are experienced professionals and operate in a cheerful environment which really makes a difference to our patient’s experience. And people also comment on the clean bright environment they are treated in.
Whilst we do have the same pressure as NHS services when it comes to providing quality care, we can also afford to spend that bit more time with patients, get to know them and their circumstances. As I’ve already said, building that rapport is really important to us as it means we can offer encouragement alongside treatments and get people achieving goals they didn’t think they’d be able to.
If someone wanted treatment at the Treatment Centre, what would they need to do?
They would need to see their GP or health professional and request for a referral to the Treatment Centre. They can of course always contact us and we’ll be happy to help.
How is the Centre assessed for quality?
We were assessed by the Care Quality Commission in January 2017 and passed all their criteria. We are also assessed by a clinical governance group, which consists of a local GP, Community Matrons, League of Friend representative, a Governor and staff from each department.
Of course we also have our patient feedback questionnaires which are compiled every quarter and show how our patients feel about our service.