PhysioUpdate 15th February 2022

'Outstanding' Luton-based rehab service recruited locum physio to tackle waiting list issue

Care Quality Commission (CQC) inspectors have praised the 'outstanding' examples of practice that came to light when they visited rehabilitation services provided by Virgin Care Luton at the end of last year.

In an overwhelmingly positive report released today (9 February), the CQC says that staff regularly went ‘the extra mile’ at the service, which cares for people with brain injuries. Decisive action was taken when needed, such as employing a locum physiotherapist to tackle a waiting list issue.

Virgin Care Luton’s overall rating moved from ‘good’ to ‘outstanding’. It was rated as ‘outstanding’ for being effective, caring and well-led. It was also rated as ‘good’ for being safe and responsive to patients’ needs.

Bringing in a locum physio to tackle a waiting list issue impressed the CQC inspection team

Carer's laptop replaced

Craig Howarth, CQC head of hospital inspection, said: ‘The standard of care we saw Virgin Care Luton providing on our inspection was very impressive. People were fully supported to live as independently as possible, and staff really went that extra mile to help those they care for. 

‘One staff member secured food vouchers from the local community to help those struggling to afford shopping, while another helped a family replace a much-needed laptop screen. It’s actions like these that make a real difference to people.’ 

Virgin Care Luton operates at Capwell Grange Care Home and also delivers care to patients in their own homes through the Luton Intermediate Care Rehabilitation Service.

Physio interviewed

The inspection team, who spoke with a physiotherapist during their visit, found the staff team adopted a ‘strong person-centred approach’ and recognised the ‘personal, social, physical and holistic needs of their patients’.

‘Staff were aware that despite accessing appropriate services, some patients were really struggling financially to the extent that they were unable to afford shopping. A staff member carried out research in the local community and managed to secure food vouchers for those patients who were really struggling, thus enabling them to eat regularly.’

University opportunities

The service had supported many of the staff through the completion of apprenticeship roles or enabled staff to go to university to complete physiotherapy or occupational therapy courses [CQC report]

The service’s learning academy enabled staff to undertake apprenticeship and leadership programmes and offered access to specialised training courses, the report notes. ‘The service had supported many of the staff through the completion of apprenticeship roles or enabled staff to go to university to complete physiotherapy or occupational therapy courses.’

Locum physiotherapist recruited to tackle waiting list issue

Staff also respected patients’ personal, cultural, social and religious needs and how these related to their care needs. Staff avoided telephoning patients at prayer time and would send a text message instead, for example.

Commenting on the community health service, the report states that managers ensured patients could access emergency services when needed and ‘received treatment within agreed timeframes and national targets.

In a section dealing with 'access and flow' issues, the report notes that: ‘Managers had proactively employed a locum physiotherapist with the sole task of supporting the team to reduce the waiting list.’

Thanks from patients and carers

One patient reported that she had been seeing the same staff member for some weeks and that they had been very patient, consistent and flexible with appointment times. ‘She told us that she had benefited greatly from accessing the service and that she had regained her mobility and her life, through taught exercises and physiotherapy provided by staff.’

One patient left a written message for the inspectors, which said: ‘I have been very very happy with the service provided.’ A carer sent a ‘huge thank you’ to staff for 'all that they had done for her mother’ and another patient thanked a specific staff member for going ‘above and beyond’.

The report is available on here: 

This article was updated on 10 February (with the following section added)

After more than 10 years as part of the Virgin Group, Virgin Care announced in December 2021 that it was being rebranded as HCRG Care Group and had been acquired by Twenty20 Capital. 

Vivienne McVey, HCRG Care Group's chief executive officer, said:  'Since we founded the business, we’ve supported many millions of people up and down England, and this investment by Twenty20 will allow us not only to continue that work but also build on our existing success.

Dr McVey added: 'Whilst we have a new name, as HCRG Care Group it remains business as usual – our team will continue to focus on changing lives by transforming health and care working with commissioners, communities and our hard-working frontline colleagues to deliver joined up, efficient but above all high quality services.'

For more information about the Luton Intermediate Care Rehabilitation Service, visit:

'First of its kind' resource guides physios on conducting remote assessments with patients

Plymouth-based academic Jenny Freeman hopes that physiotherapists around the UK will make the most of Telerehab, a free online resource that aims to help practitioners assess patients’ movement impairments using video conferencing or telephone technology.

Telerehab, which was developed with funding from the National Institute for Health Research and the Medical Research Council, enables practitioners to conduct remote assessments with patients with long-term conditions such as Parkinson’s, multiple sclerosis (MS), as well as those recovering from Covid-19 infections.

Patient partner Barbara Scott, who has MS, advised clinicians working on the project

Read More

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