Following launch, Circle Rehabilitation on highway to success

Circle Rehabilitation began treating patients in February this year at Circle Reading Hospital in Berkshire. Despite being early days, it is standing strong – like its patients – as a centre of excellence.

The centre’s leaders aim to import the European model of accelerated rehabilitation to the UK. They point to a few factors which are propelling the centre to success: investing in high-quality equipment, hiring a multidisciplinary team and expanding services.

Cutting edge technology and equipment

Circle Rehabilitation have invested in the latest and most advanced technology, hand-picked from leading brands. Patients at Reading are accelerating their recovery with these machines along with occupational therapy in the kitchen and recreation lounge and one-to-one attention from our physiotherapists.

The most recent addition to the equipment at Circle Rehabilitation is the ‘Hydro Physio,’ also referred to as an aqua treadmill. It is a self-contained underwater treadmill. Musculoskeletal and neurological patients use the machine to improve their gait, balance and strength in a controlled environment. Engineers installed a special water system in Circle Reading Hospital to fill-up and empty the machine.

One of the most iconic pieces of equipment at the centre is the AlterG anti-gravity treadmill. This uses technology originally developed by NASA for astronauts. Patients are accelerating their rehabilitation by moving sooner in a pain-free environment.

“We have access to gold standard equipment, like the AlterG, like the aqua treadmill, that can reintroduce people to load safely during their rehabilitation process,” said David Bevan, physiotherapist at Circle Rehabilitation.

The British Rowing team trialled the AlterG in April when they started their partnership with Circle Reading.

“As an athlete, you always want to know things are on the cutting edge,” said British Rower Graeme Thomas, who has qualified for the Olympics. “It seems they have a lot of innovative equipment in there that could really help someone like myself or my fellow athletes.”

Patients, particularly those affected by Parkinson’s Disease, are improving their spines’ range and amplitude with Circle Rehabilitation’s Nordic Health equipment. The technology is cutting-edge and rare to find in the UK. Nordic Health machines provide bespoke exercise programmes based on very precise measurements.

Data and diagnostics are key to healthcare. So patients are using card readers on our rehabilitation machines to record their progress. Through Circle Reading Hospital and the Circle Health network, they also have access to on-site scanning and testing such as X-Rays, MRI scans and Ultrasounds.

Click here to see more of our equipment at Circle Rehabilitation:

Expert clinical team

Circle Rehabilitation’s vision is to spread the European model of rehabilitation here in the UK. A key to this success is staffing a multi-disciplinary team, who meet regularly to discuss patients’ progress.

“We have developed a really effective team.” said Stephen Bell, manager of Circle Rehabilitation.  “The way to look at it is from a whole team approach: from a medical perspective, from a therapy perspective, even from a dietary perspective.”

At its core are leadership, a clinical advisory group as well as physiotherapists, occupational therapists, clinical psychologists, dieticians and speech therapists. Moreover, nurses, hospitality staff and administrators also play their part in ensuring the patients get the holistic approach to their recovery.

“Part of my role is to speak the patients day-to-day, as sort of like their case manager, to make sure they are happy with their sessions,” said Hannah Baxendale, Administration Manager at Circle Rehabilitation.

Circle Rehabilitation have recently recruited neuro physiotherapists. They have been tasked with treating patients suffering from Parkinson’s Disease, Multiple Sclerosis and stroke.

“Circle Rehabilitation offers a comprehensive, personalised rehabilitation service,” said Rachel Howes, neuro physiotherapist at Circle Rehabilitation. “We are a very hard working team that works closely together, and we always put the patient at the centre of our focus.”

James Bonnett recently joined Circle Reading as head chef. He has been meeting with Circle Rehabilitation patients on a 1-to-1 basis to design menus that fit their needs.

“Food is important in rehabilitation because patients need the nutrients within the food, to help them in their recovery and to give them the energy so they can perform their physiotherapy,” Bonnett said.

Circle Rehabilitation provides 24 hour on-site medical cover. Patients also have access to Circle Health’s network of clinicians – the largest network in the UK.

Expanding services

The equipment and team are giving patients individualised care. Another cornerstone of the European model is scaling up services so rehabilitation centres can routinely serve populations, not just one-off patients. The goal:  embed an overall culture of wellness.

That said, Circle Rehabilitation has been expanding its pathways, amenities and services.

In September, Circle Rehabilitation admitted its first-ever in-patient completely funded by the NHS, with approval by the patient’s local CCG. Even more ground breaking, the patient’s partner has been staying overnight in the unit. The family’s adjustment to the patient’s neurological condition is just as important as the patient’s own treatment, Bostock said.

“If the ultimate goal is to get the patient home, then the partner needs to be comfortable,” Bostock said. “One of our advantages is that with the companion beds in patient rooms, partners and families can more easily transition to the new life circumstances.”

Patients can follow a variety of pathways for paying for Circle Rehabilitation. Private surgery patients from Circle Reading can continue paying privately post-operation at Circle Rehabilitation, as can private patients from hospitals outside Circle Health. And even if patients paid for surgeries via the NHS, they can still opt to pay privately for Circle Rehabilitation to accelerate their recovery.

The choice of outpatient clinics is expanding. Circle Rehabilitation recently launched a specialist clinic for managing pain from fibromyalgia.  (See article “Circle Rehabilitation’s new clinic to ease fibromyalgia pain, cut waiting times”)

Meanwhile, clinicians and therapists have been designing rehabilitation ‘packages’ for both residential care (inpatient) and flexible, by appointment care (outpatient). Our staff adjust each programme in real-time to the particular patient’s needs and daily progress. The lower back pain package, for example, includes help for patients in instances where surgery isn’t deemed appropriate.

“Being able to sign a patient off at the end of their rehabilitation, and they say ‘hey, look I can now go out and play and kick ball around the garden,’” said Bell. “This is hugely satisfying.”

Amateur and professional athletes have been benefitting from Circle Rehabilitation since the centre’s launch.

Examples of sports medical testing includes sports physiology, VO2 max and lactate threshold. Our physiotherapists have been analysing athletes’ gaits and treating their injuries. The centre has hosted free educational evenings for local running and triathlon clubs and fitness instructors. Dr Kate Hutchings, who as a consultant at the English Institute of Sport, runs a Sports Injury and Sports Medicine Clinic at Circle Rehabilitation. (See article “Sports Rehabilitation: Q&A with Mike Dye, physiotherapist”)

On the road

Our patients are on their road to recovery. Thanks to Circle Rehabilitation, they are getting back to life at home quicker. As the centre helps patients to walk, run and play, so too has Circle Rehabilitation hit the ground running. Since it started in February on the healthcare highway, Circle Rehabilitation has hit the accelerator.


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Circle Health Group, 1st Floor, 30 Cannon Street, London, EC4M 6XH