So ‘Freedom Day’ came and went in both England and Scotland and here at the Police Treatment Centres we are certainly moving forwards towards a return to normality. We have been able to lift many Covid enforced restrictions around the Centres but we will maintain precautions related to clinical areas and treatment in line with NHS guidelines to ensure we continue to keep patients and staff as safe as possible and that will include the ongoing requirement for both staff and patients to continue to wear facemasks when moving around the Centres.
The local health authorities in both Harrogate and Auchterarder were extremely helpful in ensuring that all employees at both Centres were offered vaccines very early on in the roll out programme but we have still fallen victim to the ‘pingdemic’ and unfortunately quite a number of staff have had to isolate at various times. We have been able to increase the numbers of patients in residence at both Centres, and indeed the Psychological Wellbeing programme is now running as normal, but the continuation of some clinical restrictions means that physiotherapy numbers remain slightly lower than usual for the time being. All in all, it has been fantastic to see the Centres filling up again and to hear the buzz of people going about their day. We do regularly review occupancy levels and aim to get back to full capacity as soon as we can.
The fantastic new clinical services wing is now fully up and running at St Andrews and the new facilities have certainly enabled us to enhance the PTC experience for patients. The wing could not have been built without the generous support of Police Care UK and the relationship between the two charities continues to grow into a genuine partnership. We are currently jointly looking at new ways of supporting Police Officers in the future and hopefully should have some exciting news later in the year regarding new programmes taking place at the PTCs.
As the year has progressed it has been fabulous to see how the beautiful grounds, and in particular the wonderful sensory gardens, at both Centres have changed through the seasons. At present the flowers are in full bloom, bees are busy going about their work and the scent of roses, lavender and chamomile fill the air. The gardens really are perfect oases of peacefulness and amazing places to aid relaxation which is of great benefit to all those who stay at the Centres.
The value of spending time outdoors in aiding wellbeing is well proven and there are lots of ways in which spending time in nature can be positive for our mental health. The benefits are often related to how our senses connect us to the environment around us, from the shapes in nature we see, the background sounds such as birdsong that we often miss, the scents that flowers and trees give off or the feel of sunshine or even rain on our faces.
Green spaces can be a little more difficult to find in big cities and at first glance nature can appear to be lost in the urban jungle, but if you pause and take in your surroundings you might notice that nature can pop up in even the most unlikely places. Signs of nature are threaded throughout the city and if we pause for even a few moments it can be possible to rediscover beauty in familiar surroundings.
As we all start to return to our busy schedules and life becomes ever more hectic, spending a few minutes each day outdoors noticing and experiencing the nature around us can have a hugely calming and positive effect - try it and see!
Head of Clinical Services