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University Students Provide Therapeutic Care to Local Residents

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Students at the University of Worcester who have been on placement at a local extra care scheme could be the catalyst for a new support group to tackle social isolation.

Sanctuary’s Noble House extra care scheme, part of the Group’s wider Sanctuary Grove development, has been playing host to half a dozen of the University's students over the past eight weeks.

Students studying Physiotherapy and Occupational Therapy have been leading a series of activities for the scheme’s residents as part of their university course, including gentle exercise classes and a reminiscence group for those with dementia.

The students have also been working with one of the younger residents to help her find suitable venues for a new support group she is setting up for younger adults with lifelong health conditions, SUNBEAMS (Supportive Understanding Network Believing Encouraging Mutual Support).

Emily Simmons, 29, receives 19 hours of care from Sanctuary per week for her Ehlers-Danlos Syndrome, a connective tissue disorder which results in a lack of collagen in her body causing weakness and chronic pain, among other symptoms.

The condition varies from day to day, meaning Emily has experienced the depression and isolation living with a chronic condition can cause.

Emily said: “I’ve experienced first-hand the difficulties of being a younger adult with a largely hidden disability and so I’ve wanted to see a group for me and others with chronic conditions established. I’m very much looking forward to developing this group and am grateful to the University’s Occupational Therapy students for their support in moving it along.”

If successful the group could give people in Worcester, who have become lonely or isolated as a result of their condition, a place to meet others.

Noble House scheme services manager Vivienne Hobbs said: “Some of our residents live very independent lives and others don’t go out as much.

“While we always assist our residents with trips out, where feasible, working with the university to bring these activities here has made it very easy for all of them to take part, try something new and socialise some more with their neighbours, which has been really appreciated.

“That a new opportunity to tackle social isolation in the wider community might arise from this, I feel, would be the icing on the cake.”