This month we are featuring the National Institute for Conductive Education (NICE) which assists both adults and children with movement disorders caused among other things by cerebral palsy, stroke, Parkinsons and brain injury.
One of the main aims for NICE is to teach people with disabilities the full range of skills required to promote an active lifestyle thus equipping them with the confidence, personality and motor skills to lead a lifestyle which reflects their abilities and opens up new opportunities for equality and inclusion within society. At PLG we aim to help achieve these aspirations by adapting properties for both adults and children with varying disability – we know how important the right therapy and approach can be to improve lives.
We were delighted to speak to Dr Melanie Brown CEO of NICE about her experiences of lockdowns and how life is looking as we learn to live with Covid.
Within 2 weeks we were all up and running with online working and our school reopened after the Easter holidays for just 1-2 days a week as our children had Special Educational Needs and therefore we were able to reopen. We did not have that many children in initially but we managed to operate a hybrid system whereby children at home could join the class remotely which did give parents much needed respite. By the summer we had increased the school to 3 days a week and we were seeing good results.
The hybrid working meant that parents had become more involved in the children’s education and this meant that they could continue with the approaches taken by the conductors during the classes after school. Pre-school services were completely remote which provided unexpected benefits.
It also meant that the conductors saw the children in their home environment and became really creative with using household objects instead of equipment which we normally had in the sessions to assist with the therapies!
Dr Brown goes on to tell us about the provision of adult services which was a more complex problem to solve. But here again the lockdowns brought hidden benefits. From March 2020 all sessions ceased for about 2 weeks but then moved to being conducted completely remotely.
Once all the service users had managed to get their heads around Zoom we found that people were accessing the sessions much more frequently as they did not have to travel in each time, but could join from the comfort of their own home. We felt that we were much more accessible this way. Many felt that it would be impossible to offer our conductive therapies this way but we found quite the contrary, more people were able to access this with more regularity and to excellent effect which has been great.
This year NICE celebrates their 35th Year, watch their fantastic video by clicking the image above created to celebrate how they have proudly transformed the lives of over 9000 children and adults with movement disorders.
But in lots of ways the pandemic has been hard too. Sadly a number of those who attended NICE were lost to Covid and this brought great sadness to the conductors and those involved in the therapies they had been receiving at NICE. These losses really brought home the tragic impact of Covid. And there was also the financial impact of the pandemic. Staff were furloughed and this caused worry and distress among those who felt they weren’t a part of the charity as well as for those working who were facing their own challenges. Government grants have helped, but not being able to fundraise in the same way has had an effect and has been especially tough in 2021/22.
Post lockdown there has been a reduction in staff due to natural wastage but there have also been valuable lessons learned.