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Neurology unit and carer forum

In 2012, the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust Neurology Unit moved from Forster Green Hospital to a new building in Musgrave Park Hospital. It was necessary to bring together staff with patients and carers to determine the functions and operational arrangements of the unit. Initially, a survey was carried out to identify priorities for the unit and patients, along with their carers and family members, were fully involved in providing feedback.

At what level did the PPI take place?

Service development/delivery.

PPI helped the project to:

  • Improve quality;
  • Inform commissioning;
  • Increase ownership


The unit provides care and respite for patients with a range of neurological conditions, including Multiple Sclerosis, Motor Neurone Disease, Huntington’s Disease, Muscular Dystrophy, Parkinson’s Disease and stroke.

In addition to introducing a number of beneficial services a Forum was established comprising patients, carers and family members to consider ways of improving the service and care within the unit and promote an educational programme to enhance patient management and assist carers in their roles.

The formation of the Neurology Unit Patient and Carer Forum demonstrates PPI in action where service users and carers are actively involved with staff in driving developments within the unit on an ongoing basis.

Aim of involvement

The aim of the involvement is to broaden and improve the standard of care through working together, giving patients and carers a real sense of working in partnership and having ownership of the service and its direction.

Method(s) of Involvement


A number of challenges were experienced in obtaining feedback and input, including;

  • Physical and cognitive impediments of some service users who were unable to provide clear and focused views;
  • Time factors for carers in being able to create and devote space to present ideas and opinions;
  • The location of some service users and carers from areas right across Northern Ireland made involving them difficult.

Outcomes due to involvement

A number of positive outcomes were achieved as a result of the involvement, including;

  • A Neurology Unit Patient and Carer Forum has been established;
  • A committee has also been established to administer the affairs of the Forum;
  • There has been increased involvement of service users and carers in putting forward proposals for improvement;
  • A number of high priorities were identified and acted upon with seminars on issues including stress management, bladder and bowel management, financial issues such as benefits, asset protection and legal issues;
  • Ongoing research into neurological conditions;
  • Introduction of complimentary therapies including music therapy, reflexology and aromatherapy;
  • A counselling service was introduced;
  • Recognition of the need to extend the role of an activity therapist in the unit.



Further Information

For further information, contact:
Dr. Gavin McDonnell, Consultant Neurologist, Neurology Unit, Musgrave Park Hospital
Email: gavin.mcdonnell@belfasttrust.hscni.net
Tel: 028 9504 0352