male service user working at a computer with support worker in The Woodmill's IT Suite

Staff and the people they support at a Brain Injury Rehabilitation Trust (BIRT) centre, The Woodmill in Cullompton, Devon celebrated today after it was awarded an ‘Outstanding’ by care watchdog the Care Quality Commission (CQC).

This is particularly special when we consider only 2% of all CQC reports receive an Outstanding grade, reinforcing what an achievement it is. For more information and to read the full report..

Scott Ratcliff, interim Service Manager at the Woodmill, said everyone was delighted when they heard the news: “It put a huge smile on everyone’s face – all the staff and the people we support here are over the moon.”

The 19 bedded centre and its expert team helps people who have a brain injury - for example cause by a severe blow to the head, illness or stroke – recover lost skills and re-train their brains to be able to regain as much independence as possible.

CEO of BIRT’s parent charity the Disabilities Trust, Irene Sobowale, said: “This is the equivalent of an Olympic or Paralympic gold medal for us! I am enormously proud of the Woodmill, especially our amazing staff team. We have lots of celebrations planned over the summer.”

She added: This is a wonderful achievement and exemplifies the standards we set for the Trust overall.”

My concentration has improved and my moods. This has been a good place for my recovery”

The report found that‘The care and support planned and provided was exceptionally responsive, personalised and effective. People were at the centre of their care. Their needs were comprehensively assessed and rehabilitation support plans and goals were highly personalised and drawn up with the full involvement of each person together with their family, friends and/or advocates.’

The inspectors spoke to service users and quoted them saying “I have really progressed here. My concentration has improved and my moods. This has been a good place for my recovery” and “I am enjoying my stay. It has helped with my confidence. I feel I am improving.”

Health professionals were also very satisfied with the support their clients were receiving; expressing full confidence in the centre: “The service is person centred and compassionate. Everybody there is very skilled…It is a gift from heaven in terms of having a specialist assessment for my client…”


The inspectors noted that the centre had a ‘positive atmosphere and an open and inclusive culture had been developed.’ With robust systems in place and plans to continually improve the service by means of new and imaginative solutions. They were impressed by the ‘comprehensive neurobehavioural assessment was completed for each person prior to admission to determine their potential for social reintegration and increased independence. As a result of the evidence based practice people regain skills and confidence which lead to more independent living and work opportunities.

The staff team which comprises support staff and therapy staff, such as psychologists, physiotherapists, occupational therapists and speech and language therapists were acknowledged as being ‘highly experienced and motivated’. They were praised for being well trained, caring, monitoring health needs, respecting individual’s dignity and safety; encouraging the people they support to develop new skills and fulfil their potential. This included positive risk taking helping people to experience new and interesting activities.

The category of Well Led was also judged to be ‘Outstanding’. They said ‘The management team, therapy and staff team shared a vision of rehabilitation and recovery, which created a culture which was person centred; focused on the best possible outcomes for people.’

Service users were fully involved in their support plans and invited to regular forums to have real input into everything that might affect them.

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