Chairperson’s report of year 2016
2016 saw a change in our manager as Tracy Mckenzie took over from Val Woods. Tracy has now successfully completed her first year in the role, and is doing a great job.
As always, our aim is to make the experience of people attending the Centre as good as it can be.
Visible changes to the Centre include redecoration and new furniture – kindly funded by local Rotary groups and charitable trusts. We have also created a brand new website at no cost to the Centre.
We have also been working behind the scenes on governance issues, including updating policies and staff contracts, and working on health and safety matters.
We continue to try to respond to the needs of our members, being flexible in the services that we offer, and listening to suggestions. As part of this, we now have an active member representative who feeds ideas from members to the manager and trustees. We also have ideas from staff, and will be meeting shortly to discuss ideas for improvement.
In February 2016, our physiotherapists and nurses attended a workshop, organised by Miranda and Ros, to educate about respiratory issues and to see how a simple piece of equipment can help to improve breathing. This apparatus is now available to purchase at the Centre, and has helped several members.
At the end of 2015 we set up a group for people newly diagnosed with MS. This group is for people who do not wish to access the Therapy Centre on a regular basis, but would like to meet with others in the same situation as themselves. We are learning from our experience of the first year of delivery, and will provide a re-structured format this year.
For people who don’t attend the Centre regularly due to work or family commitments, we now have available an APS machine, which has been donated donated to the Centre, and can be used by people at home. APS is a treatment that can help with several symptoms of MS including pain and fatigue.
In June 2016, our MS nurses, Emma and Miranda, attended the Consortium of MS Conference in America, where they presented a paper describing the benefits benefits seen using the treatment Action Potential Simulation (APS), which is being pioneered at the Centre.
In 2016 we delivered workshops for people needing help with benefit applications. We found that the time pressures to return the form meant that monthly workshops were too infrequent, and that people wished to discuss their forms with our nurses in order to ccurately record their medical information. so we have ceased the workshops, but allowed additional nursing hours for this purpose. We encourage members to make a donation for this support.
In order to ensure sustainability, we have been mindful of increasing our income, and reducing costs on items where we can make savings without affecting service delivery, for example receiving donations of cleaning products, buying cheaper printer inks etc.
Our solar panels have been a very successful investment, enabling us to receive more money in Feed in Tariff payments than we have actually spent on electricity.
These savings have kept us lean, and allowed us to increase our number of staff hours slightly.
We have had 2 members of staff take maternity leave for a year, and we welcome Kirstin NIcol and Asleigh Johnson. Again responding to need, we have taken the opportunity to divide the physio assistant role into two, with Sarah Parry now working in hydrotherapy and Jo Knox as gym assistant 4 das per week
In 2016 we employed Paula Priestly as our fundraiser specialising in charitable Trust applications and building relationships with local community groups and local businesses. Paula has been working hard ina number of areas, and has implemented our very popular 100 club as a new income stream.
We continue to rely heavily on donations from our supporters. A notable event in 2016 was the Bath tub challenge – where two men rowed in a bath tub along the Caledonia canal – resulted in TV exposure and donations of £XX
Locally, we were charity of the year at the Bedford Park Concerts, enabling us to collect from the crowd on 3 evenings, raising £XX, and we will, once again, be the charity of the concerts in August this year.
We were very grateful indeed to receive the very generous legacy from Alan Baker. Alan was a real character around the Centre, who was very generous to members and staff throughout his like. We will ensure that we put his legacy to good use.
Our focus for the coming year is refurbishment of the hydrotherapy pool. We also need new boilers, and minibus, but hopefully this will last until next year.
We are working on the launch of our ‘Friends’ of the MS Therapy Centre’. This will be for family and friends who would like to make a small annual donation to receive our newsletter, and for members who don’t wish to attend regularly at the moment, but who would like to be associated with the Centre and attend on an ad hoc basis.
Later this year, Emma Matthews, one of our MS nurses, will run a session called ‘digesting science’ which aims to help the young children of people living with MS to understand what is going on in their parent’s life.
We are also in talks to work in partnership with BIG Health and Fitness, a group of personal trainers who specialise in training for weight loss for people who might not find it easy to attend a gym because they are significantly overweight or have mobility issues. Specially adapted exercises tailored to the individual will help reduce weight and improve health and wellbeing.
As I said at the beginning of this report, we will continue to monitor our services in order to ensure that we provide the best possible service and therapies to people with MS and their families. We have recently taken part in the MS Trust’s GEMSS (Generating Evidence in Multiple Sclerosis Services) project that collects evidence about how services work best for people with MS. We await the results of the survey, and will respond accordingly.
Once again, our staff have received awards for their outstanding work. In 2016 Emma Matthews was awarded both the Queen’s Award and the MS Society MS professional of the year.
In May this year, our physio, gym and shiatsu team attended the MS Society award ceremony where they were highly commended for the title MS professional of the year. We are very proud of the quality of our members of staff.
We would not be the charity that we are without the dedication of our wonderful members of staff, and the many Volunteers who keep us running. Our staff always go the extra mile for our members, and we have so many volunteers who underpin the services that we offer.
We have an incredibly hard-working team serving on the fundraising committee, who turn out without fail to make our events a success.
We are extremely grateful to all of members. Donors, Trusts, Charitable groups and business who support us.
I would like to thank them all on behalf of the Trustees and the Members alike.
Registered Charity Number: 802510
Bradbury House, 155 Barkers Lane, Bedford, MK41 9RX.
The Bedfordshire and Northamptonshire MS Therapy Centre aims to provide the therapies, services & support needed for people with multiple sclerosis.