Walking through the doors of the Oxford Centre for Enablement takes you into a hidden gem within our NHS Trust. With its bright murals, and even sunnier staff, you instantly know you are in a very special place

Here, advanced therapies are used to provide specialist neurological rehabilitation for patients recovering from, and living with, long-term disabling conditions. The dedicated team working in this purpose-built centre help patients improve their physical skills and coordination, using a mixture of traditional and innovative therapies.

Alongside the wards and physiotherapy equipment, it is a wonderful surprise to see a fully functioning workshop, with occupational therapist technical instructors, John Mercer and Hattie Speed – who are also trained furniture makers – teaching woodwork skills to patients.

Spend any time with them and their passion shines through – it quickly becomes clear that giving patients the skills to create something, like a bird house or jewellery box, can have an amazing effect on recovery.

John explains: ‘We have patients who have had strokes or serious accidents and feel they have lost everything. They can be very depressed and really don’t think they could possibly manage to use tools to actually make something.

‘But it doesn’t take long for them to become fully immersed in the work and you see their physical skills and confidence grow.’

Entering the art room, you can’t fail to notice the hundreds of creations covering every surface, but it is Jo Brown’s big smile and effervescent personality that stand out most. To say Jo is passionate about her work is an understatement. She talks excitedly about how art and craft not only helps her patients improve hand to eye co-ordination but can also help to bring back their sense of self and hope for the future.

‘To see the effect on someone who has very limited mobility as they find the skills to create something beautiful is just amazing,’ Jo told us.

‘The work helps our patients with their physical rehabilitation, and simultaneously their mental health improves. They really look forward to these sessions – it is a wonderful thing.’

Thanks to your donations, Oxford Hospitals Charity is able to support this innovative work by funding materials and specially adapted equipment for the workshops.

Jo proudly demonstrated the art table that rises and tilts to match the exact needs of the patient she is working with, meaning those with even the most severe disabilities can take part. The table was funded by donations from the Greenaway family after their son teenage son, Harvey, received support following a serious car accident.

Our charity has also funded interactive screens so that during the pandemic, one-to-one sessions with patients could still take place from their homes. Today, these screens continue to allow music therapy and even photography workshops to include both in-patients and those at home, bringing creative and rewarding therapies to a wider group.

The centre also includes a beautiful little garden, where funding for a new shed and gardening equipment has been warmly welcomed by the team. The staff we met across the centre exude energy and enthusiasm and were unanimous in thanks for the charitable support of their very special work.

The Oxford Centre for Enablement is located at the Nuffield Orthopaedic Centre (NOC), which has a worldwide reputation for orthopaedics, rheumatology and rehabilitation.

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