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Published: 9 August 2023

Caring for patients the Westbrook way

Our specialist stroke rehabilitation unit opened at Westbrook House in Margate last month.

The ward offers round-the-clock care for up to six weeks with a new multi-disciplinary team.

Patients arriving from acute hospitals and the community are receiving seven-day support from our team of therapists and nurses to help them recover faster and get home quicker, where they will continue their therapy.

Read more from our team on the ground to find out how patients are recovering and the difference the unit is making.

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    Clare and Katherine are doing things differently

    Clare King and Katherine Wass are two of the rehabilitation assistants on the specialist stroke ward at Westbrook House and you can tell they love their jobs.

    Katherine Wass Therapy AssistantKatherine, 31, had worked in care before but was new to Team KCHFT. She was so excited for the therapy side of the role and how she could support patients to support themselves.

    She said: “It is such a nice team here and we all work together to support our patients. Seeing their progress and knowing you have helped them is brilliant. For a stroke patient, even the small wins mean a big difference.

    “On this unit, we have the dining room set up in the middle of the ward and everyone eats together. It’s great seeing our patients enjoy being social and helping each other in their recovery as they all know how each other feels.”

    For Clare, 57, making a difference to her patients is what gets her out of bed in the morning. She said: “Every day you can see an improvement because we are involving people in their recovery. We find out what matters to them because our patients are really important to us.

    Clare King Rehabilitation Assistant“Some of them talked about missing a glass of bubbly at lunch, so we went out a bought some alcohol-free Prosecco and they all shared it round the table, which was lovely.

    “We encourage people to do things for themselves and be as independent as they can so they are practicing the things they would be doing when they get home.

    “Our occupational therapist Laura has created some amazing therapy plans, tailored to what each patient wants to achieve, with photos of that person completing the exercise, such as picking up and holding a book to read. It is a little reminder that they can do it and shows them how far they have come. How brilliant is that?”

    If you want to do brilliant things and support people to regain their independence, look for your community opportunity on our website:

    Generous Jo’s hair expertise makes Maureen’s day

    Maureen Mumford, 83, was treated to a fresh trim on our new stroke rehabilitation ward at Westbrook House after local hairdresser Jo Holden visited to provide haircuts for our patients.

    Hairdresser Jo Holden and patient Maureen MumfordJo responded to a post we put on Facebook after patients on the unit told us how long it had been since they had a haircut and how it would help them feel 'more themselves'.

    Jo, 38 from Ramsgate, whose daughter Lacey-May had a stroke eight years ago just before her third birthday, said: "I like to help people and do things for a good cause so it is my pleasure to be here."

    Lacey-May, now 11, has fully recovered from her stroke which left her unable to walk and affected the left-hand side of her body. Jo said: “Looking back, all the signs were there, but we didn’t realise what was happening – it was so frightening.

    “Lacey-May has made a brilliant recovery, but it was hard and I really feel for these patients.”

    Maureen, from Ashford, has been on the ward for three weeks. She said: "I had my stroke in June. It affected my speech, my swallow and my mobility down my right side. Luckily I am left-handed, so I am wearing a splint on my right arm to straighten and strengthen it so I can get back to my embroidery, yoga and learning to play the piano.

    “This was my first stroke and it is going to be my last because I am determined to get better and go home.

    “The care on the unit is brilliant and having my haircut has made me feel more like me again. I have been working hard in the gym, using the parallel bars to walk, because I live on my own so I have to be able to take care of myself. I cannot wait to put my key in the front door. I have a daughter, son and two grandchildren, but I want to be independent and look after myself."

    Would you like to volunteer with us? We have opportunities for people to work in our community hospitals, with patients, helping to make a difference. Find out more on our website:

    Beth’s dream job helping people

    Beth Gadd was new to the NHS when she took on the role of ward clerk at the stroke rehabilitation unit at Westbrook House. Watching her buzz around the ward, fixing problems and supporting the team, you would think she had been doing the job for years, not weeks.

    Beth Gadd Ward ClerkBeth, 26, who previously worked at Thanet Children’s Centre, said: “My job is to make sure the nursing and therapy teams have everything they need to support the patients and I love it. It is busy every day and every day is different. I had never worked in the NHS before but always wanted to work in a job where I could help people.

    “Seeing the patients when they make progress and the smiles on their faces when they walk with a frame for the first time, makes all the difference. My job is so worthwhile.”

    Do you feel like Beth and want a job helping people? Find your community opportunity on our website:

    “I’m proud of my job” Saffery’s fresh start in Westbrook

    Born and bred in Thanet, 23-year-old Saffery is part of the new ward team at the Westbrook House Stroke Rehabilitation centre in Margate.

    Saffery, Westbrook HouseSaffery had studied health and social care to BTec level in sixth form and had some experience of private care work during Covid, but in 2022 was pulling pints in local pubs. “There was a lack of job security in bar work, but also a lack of passion from me,” explained Saffery. “I had always been interested in human biology and I like working with people. I felt I needed to re-evaluate my life and my career.

    “In January a friend told me about a social media post, advertising roles at a new stroke rehabilitation centre near me. I took the plunge and went to the open day at Westbrook House. I was interviewed and offered the job on the spot. I worked for two months as a healthcare assistant (HCA) at the Queen Victoria Memorial Hospital (QVMH) in Herne Bay while we were waiting for the new stroke ward to open and we had a week’s full-on training in Canterbury with a physiotherapist and an occupational therapist to get us used to the dual aspect of the role on the ward.

    “All of us take a part in helping the patients with their therapy goals, so it’s important we feel confident to support the plans drawn up by the senior clinicians. It also means that patients don’t ‘sit around’ all day and wait for therapy, it’s built into their routine.

    “I’m really enjoying the work, I get to spend lots of time with our patients and get to know them well. The work is varied and interesting and I enjoy the feeling of professional responsibility.

    “I’m proud of my job.”