From suffering an acquired brain injury (ABI) to working at Michael Caines 'Abode' fine dining restaurant in Exeter, Matt's road to recovery which started at The Woodmill, has been one of remarkable success.

After being discharged from Mardon Rehabilitation Unit in Exeter, Matt was admitted to The Woodmill's community house in Spindlebury. Having sustained an acquired brain injury following a heart attack, Matt was left with weakness in his left side, loss of dexterity, slow thought process and lack of motivation. He also had memory deficits as well as communication problems. Matt was however, very clear about setting his long term goals to return home to his girlfriend and resume his career as a chef.

At the community house, Matt was able to nurture skills he would require going back into the community. He became very familiar with the surrounding area, although, as a result of his brain injury, he needed help with his road safety. Prior to injury, Matt had a less cautious attitude to road safety, judging the distance of the vehicle with a casual glance. Once this had been addressed by the clinical team, Matt became independent enough to attend appointments and travel into town.

Service user Matt in the kitchens at The Woodmill

The physiotherapists, psychologists and the occupation therapists worked together extremely closely to build up Matt's stamina and postural strength. They also focused on other aspects that would help Matt with his life such as improving memory retention, concentration and improving dexterity. This was accomplished through engaging in pottery, painting, indoor wall climbing, and functional kitchen tasks such as chopping.

Matt said he wanted to participate in activities that were a challenge to him. Physiotherapy sessions involved activities such as cycling, climbing, skiing, swimming and gym work focussing on increasing control and co-ordination, stamina, concentration and strengthening.

Matt ultimately wanted to return to the kitchen and cook which became the driving force behind his occupational therapy. He began occasionally cooking for four people in the community house kitchen which progressed into a two afternoon per week work placement at The Woodmill. Matt would assist with the preparation of meals for the whole unit, with support, at least three times a week and would also cook with his partner at home every weekend.

As discharge approached the team at The Woodmill felt that it would be a great opportunity for Matt to continue his rehabilitation in the kitchen once he left the service.They approached two star Michelin Chef, Michael Caines to assist with Matt's therapy. Exeter-born Michael Caines is passionate about making the South West of England an area of excellence regarding the training of young adults. He has a big influence in the understanding of disabilities in the work place and helps raise awareness after losing his arm in a car accident.

Following an interview, Matt was offered a placement at 'Abode' restaurant in Exeter having demonstrated the required skills. He had previously applied for a position at the restaurant four days before suffering the brain injury, making the placement more fulfilling.

Matt was still at the community house when the placement began and the staff have continued to support him for the first few weeks post discharge until another service had enablers in place to continue support him.

Matt currently continues his placement at Abode restaurant once a week and continues working at The Woodmill kitchens.