A Lake District charity has developed the UK’s first COVID-19 compliant brain injury rehabilitation programme combining traditional clinical therapies with physical activity in the outdoors.

Located on the outskirts of Keswick in the Lake District, Calvert Reconnections, run by the Lake District Calvert Trust, is a brand new neuro-rehabilitation, residential centre providing ground-breaking rehabilitation programmes for those who have suffered an acquired brain injury.


The centre, based at Grade II listed Tithe Barn, ‘Old Windebrowe’, one-time home of Lakeland’s most famous of poets, William Wordsworth, is now taking referrals in advance of its September opening.


There is considerable support from medical research for the notion that outdoor activity is beneficial to brain injury rehabilitation.


With its focus on outdoor activities, Calvert Reconnections is uniquely placed to incorporate social distancing into its programme through activities such as rambling, fell walking, fishing, gardening, horse riding, orienteering, cycling, canoeing and sailing.


The centre’s residential and communal facilities are fully compliant with COVID-19 guidelines while newly developed services include post lockdown respite and post COVID-19 step down rehabilitation.


A highly experienced consultant neurologist and consultant in rehabilitation medicine, over the last 30 years Professor Mike Barnes has been dedicated to the development of neurological rehabilitation throughout the UK and internationally.


He believes rehabilitation provision has been driven to crisis point by COVID-19 with services facing disruption and closure due to social distancing, shielding requirements, lack of specialist support and funding.


“This ground-breaking new programme, combining traditional interdisciplinary clinical therapies with physical activity in the outdoors, will put the UK at the forefront of brain injury rehabilitation on a global scale – because rehab won’t wait,” said Professor Barnes, who acts as an expert advisor to Calvert Reconnections.


Commenting on the opening of Calvert Reconnections, Centre Director Sean Day said:


“Our centre was already unique in that it was the UK’s first intensive acquired brain injury rehabilitation programme combining traditional interdisciplinary clinical therapies with physical activity in the outdoors.


“Since lockdown, we have further developed our programme to ensure it sets a global benchmark for brain injury rehabilitation, delivering a ground-breaking, world-class rehabilitation programme tailored to support individuals in their recovery.”


The team at Calvert Reconnections includes highly experienced and qualified activity instructors, neuro rehab coaches, an occupational therapist, neuro-physiotherapist and a consultant neuropsychologist.


Programmes will be developed with the individual based on clinical evidence and research guidance while a variety of physical activity, including outdoor adventure, will be available.  Every programme will include realistic personal goals, utilising evidence-based validated outcome measures to monitor progress.    The programme aims to not only improve physical and psychological well-being, but also increase self-confidence and independence.


The crisis facing rehabilitation services has come into sharp focus in recent months.


This month, the Royal College of Occupational Therapists (RCOT) gathered support of MPs from across the UK’s political spectrum for its call for the Health Secretary to prioritise rehabilitation for those affected by COVID-19, with Chief Executive Julia Scott predicting “a tidal wave of need”.


An earlier pre COVID-19 report by Calvert Reconnections and barristers Exchange Chambers also revealed how the recovery prospects of brain injured patients in the UK are being jeopardised by a chronic lack of resources.