Monday, 17 August 2009

The UK's first Army Recovery Centre opens


A milestone in care provision for injured soldiers was reached today (Monday) with the official opening of the new Army Recovery Centre at Erskine's Edinburgh Home, Gilmerton.

The state-of-the-art Army Recovery Centre, a dedicated 12 bed wing of the £8.6 million Erskine Edinburgh Home, is the result of a partnership between the Army, veterans’ charity Erskine, and Help for Heroes who together are providing accommodation and support for soldiers wounded or injured during duty.

This is the first purpose-built Army Recovery Centre to be launched in the UK. Continuous evaluation of this pathfinder scheme will show the way to deliver similar services wherever the need is identified, with planning already underway towards a second pathfinder facility in Colchester.

The centre has been named Mark Wright House in honour of Corporal Mark Wright GC who was killed in 2006 in Afghanistan's Helmand Province when a routine patrol encountered an unmarked minefield. Mark was posthumously awarded the George Cross in recognition of the courage he displayed during the incident.

Prior to the new Army Recovery Centre, once patients left hospital or the Defence Medical Rehabilitation Centre at Headley Court, most continued to convalesce at home. However, some families simply cannot provide the required level of support and care needed to allow patients to return to duty or gain a smooth transition to a skilled and supported civilian life.

This purpose-built centre will benefit the Army, allowing soldiers to continue to recover in a residential environment with specialised care provided for individual resident needs. Soldiers will gain from a structured military environment close to existing garrison facilities including care and rehabilitation, a gym, career management and counseling. The recovery centre will also cater for families as they support their loved ones.

Major Jim Panton, Chief Executive of Erskine, said:

"The opening of the new Army Recovery centre is a momentous day for all involved, not least those soldiers who will benefit immensely from the purpose-built centre and specialist facilities provided.

"The Army Recovery Centre will provide the final recovery and rehabilitation care required for 12 injured soldiers at a time. Being at the forefront of care provisions, through the launch of the pilot Army Recovery Centre, is testament to the dedication and service provided by Erskine over the years, and we are delighted to be working together with Help for Heroes and the Army to provide this much needed service."

Under Secretary of State for Defence, Kevan Jones said:

“We are constantly reviewing how best to support our injured people, and this is an important new initiative. It’s an exciting model, bringing the MOD, Erskine Homes and H4H together, ensuring that each organisation can focus on what it does best. It will help us learn more about this partnership approach for the future, and how it could fit into the new welfare support package that the MOD is developing for all service personnel, veterans and their families.”

Chief of the General Staff, General Sir Richard Dannatt, said:

"I am delighted at the launch of this initiative, and am deeply grateful to Help for Heroes and Erskine Homes for their valuable assistance with a project that will deliver this excellent service to our soldiers recovering from injury. I know that our men and women on the front line already have enormous faith in the skills and capability of our medical and rehabilitation services – this scheme will enable a smooth transition back to duty or to civilian life for those who have suffered appalling injury in service of their country. We look forward to seeing this pathfinder scheme informing the development of this capability across the country.”

Officer Commanding, Major Roddy Sutherland, in charge of the Army Recovery Centre, said:

"The New Army Recovery Centre in Edinburgh is an excellent opportunity to provide recovery support for personnel from the Army, who have been injured whilst on duty. The Residents of the facility will have access to all the medical and support staff available within Edinburgh Garrison, which will help develop them within the military system.”

Bryn Parry, Co-founder and Chief Executive of Help for Heroes, said:

"I hope that the Edinburgh Pathfinder Army Recovery Centre will be the first of many, providing our young Servicemen and women with a launch pad to life and enabling them to learn the skills necessary for a successful future. We are now well on the way to raising the £20 million necessary to fund further centres across the UK to ensure that anyone wounded whilst serving their country has access to the very best facilities possible.”

Help for Heroes has provided the funding for the centre, Erskine will provide the facilities management and Hotel Services for the building whilst the Army will staff the centre with military personnel to carry out the care and rehabilitation.

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