Heatherwood College Launches New Courses Following Success of its Recovery College

Following the successful launch of their Recovery College in 2020, the Heatherwood Court team has developed a new prospectus which features a number of exciting new courses for service users

Heatherwood Court is a low security hospital offering treatment and rehabilitation for men and women on a forensic mental health pathway. Located near Cardiff, the hospital is owned and managed by specialist healthcare provider, Ludlow Street Healthcare.

The Recovery College offers service users a broad range of courses encouraging them to develop new skills to aid them in their recovery and to help with their return to the community. The college is co-managed by service users themselves giving them an active role to play in its production and delivery, putting them at the heart of its success.

As the Recovery College has become more well-established, the prospectus and course offering has evolved to reflect the requirements of service users.

Jenna Bayliss, Skills Tutor said: “Courses like English and Maths have been really popular since the start because of their links to employability. We have had service users come to us unable to read or write and they leave able to do both. As well as being hugely rewarding for us as educators, this is invaluable to service users as they start to think about entering the job market.

“Of course, not everyone wants to focus on the educational side of things and the beauty of the Recovery College is that it is entirely catered to the individual, tapping into what people do want to know and what they think will be beneficial to their own future.

“Despite the restrictions of lockdown we were really pleased that almost half of service users attended the accredited education courses over the last 12 months.”

Service user Suz Yates was one of the original members of the Recovery College and now helps to run it. Suz believes that the key to the College’s success is the fact that it breaks down the boundaries between service users and staff, removing the ‘us and them’ culture and improves the self-esteem and confidence of the service users.

Suz said: “When they are hospitalised, service users often feel that they are de-skilled, de-personalised, separated from their usual support networks and find they can’t use their usual coping strategies.  On top of that, policies and procedures in a standard hospital environment create an ‘us and them’ culture. The Recovery College helps dismantle these barriers.

“When I arrived at Heatherwood and discovered that a Recovery College was being set-up I was eager to play a role in its development as I was part of a Recovery College in my local community previously. It made a huge difference to my life; from personal knowledge I saw how it helped me gain self-confidence and increase my self-management skills.

“Without the divide between ‘staff’ and ‘patient’ I feel accepted and recognised as having intrinsic value to offer; an ‘expert by experience’.”

Royston Scott, Recovery College Lead, said: “Now that the Recovery College is well established, we have a clearer idea of what service users find beneficial and what they want to see more of. We deliberately offer taster sessions that help people decide what will help them on their own journeys and this helps shape the prospectus too.

“We are so proud of the Recovery College team and the work they have undertaken to make the College such a success, they do a phenomenal job.”

Heatherwood Court is owned and run by healthcare specialists, Ludlow Street Healthcare. Established in 2005, Ludlow Street Healthcare has supported and cared for over 800 people. More information about Heatherwood Court and Ludlow Street Healthcare is available on their website www.heatherwoodcourt.co.uk