Paralympic Gold Medalist, Danny Crates, Opens AECC University College’s New Multi-Million-Pound Rehabilitation Centre
On Thursday October 13th, AECC University College celebrated the opening of its new multi-million-pound Integrated Rehabilitation Centre and its range of new clinical and rehabilitation services. Staff, students and patients were joined by Paralympic Gold Medalist Danny Crates and Chair of the Board of Governors, Jeni Bremner, to officially open the new state-of-the-art centre for exercise and rehabilitation.
This new development has allowed AECC University College to add an even broader range of clinical and rehabilitation services to its current offering – AECC University College already offers the local community chiropractic treatment, specialist MRI, ultrasound, x-ray, physiotherapy, a breastfeeding clinic and first contact practice in partnership with the Bournemouth Primary Care Network. The centre and new services will now also help patients in the community via neurological rehabilitation, exercise classes, frailty and falls prevention, occupational health testing, sports rehabilitation and more.
This new facility will be one of a kind in Dorset and the surrounding areas due to its size, the range of expertise in the multidisciplinary clinical team, and the range of treatments, therapies, services and equipment available to the community. The centre will help everyone from the general public to those with complex conditions as well as amateur and professional athletes. The student experience at AECC University College will also be enhanced through working with experts across these different fields of rehabilitation.
Danny Crates, who lost his right arm in a horrific accident at the age of 21 and has extensive rehabilitation experience as an athlete, officially opened the Integrated Rehabilitation Centre, speaking from the heart as to how important centres like these are. Following his accident, Danny’s rehabilitation allowed him to not only return to the rugby field within six months but also enter Paralympic sport, winning Gold in the men’s 800 metres at the Athens 2004 Paralympic Games.
This brand new 746 square metre building marks a significant investment in the future of the health sciences university’s campus, with nine new treatment rooms and a large multi-zoned physical rehabilitation space helping people get back to health and mobility after injury or illness.
The new multi-million-pound state of the art facilities were enabled by a £2.7 million ‘Getting Building Fund’ grant funding allocation by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), with AECC University College providing additional funding towards the cost of the facilities and suite of courses and services that will be available.
Dorset LEP secured £11.8 million of the government’s Getting Building Fund in 2020, set up in response to the economic challenges of the pandemic. The new facility at AECC University College is one of nine projects supported by Dorset LEP through this fund.
These new developments will provide a significant boost to the Bournemouth East economy going forwards, ensuring that Boscombe is home to a specialist health sciences university and a recognised centre of excellence in clinical and rehabilitation education, care and research.
The new facilities will also support the delivery of a number of new health sciences courses at AECC University College including speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, dietetics and podiatry, which are due to commence in January 2023.
Vice-Chancellor of AECC University College, Professor Lesley Haig, said: “We are delighted to open the new community rehabilitation centre. This flagship development for the University College will allow us to help more patients with our multidisciplinary clinical, rehabilitation and diagnostic services, whilst helping to support our colleagues in the NHS and give our students a world-leading educational and clinical experience.
“With our heart firmly in the Boscombe community, this development will make AECC University College one of the national leaders in health sciences education and care – we are delighted to be supporting Boscombe, Bournemouth and Dorset healthcare providers and we are working closely with our NHS Dorset partners to help support the healthcare system and provide community diagnostics.”
Dr Neil Langridge, AECC University College’s Director of Clinical & Rehabilitation Services, commented: “We are very proud of the team of experts who will be running our services at AECC University College. When a patient comes to us, they will be triaged and advised by one of our senior clinicians, ensuring we guide them to see the right person, at the right time, to suit their needs.
“Everyone has a health story, be that feeling unwell or in temporary or long-term pain. Our multidisciplinary clinical services will help patients and services users get back to everyday health faster and in a more manageable way. Our objective is creating the sense of ‘wrapped up care’ with a speed of service whilst improving patient outcomes, providing a connected, collaborative multidisciplinary team of experts, working together to achieve better health.”
Cecilia Bufton, Chair of Dorset LEP said: “It is always a pleasure to see great vision become reality; the opening of the Integrated Rehabilitation Centre is testament to the passion and commitment of all involved. As we move into an era of integrated care, improving lives by supporting the health and wellbeing of the whole person, rehabilitation is a vital element and students of AECC are now able to learn and practice these essential skills
“This new facility will ensure Dorset has a robust healthcare training provision, equipping the teams of the present and the future with the best possible training. This new centre will also significantly enhance the health and welfare of Dorset’s residents, particularly the local population in Boscombe and Bournemouth East. The aim of our Getting Building Fund is to support projects that would aid recovery of the local economy following the Covid Pandemic, as well as to uplift skills in Dorset and help to bridge the skills gap challenge that currently exists in the work force.”
From left to right: Professor Lesley Haig, Jeni Bremner, Danny Crates and Cllr Nigel Hedges