A specialist motor neurone disease (MND) clinic set up by Mountbatten is helping to reduce multiple appointments and giving patients quick and direct access to support under one roof.

Every month, health and social care professionals from Mountbatten, IW NHS Trust, wheelchair services, occupational therapy services and the local MND Association meet in Mountbatten’s John Cheverton Centre to support people living with the condition. MND is a rapidly progressing, life-shortening disease affecting the nerves in the brain and spinal cord that causes muscles to weaken, for which there is no cure. A quarter of people receiving support from Mountbatten are living with a condition other than cancer, and MND is an example of this.

Anita Jacobs, 53, from Ryde, is among the patients being supported through the Mountbatten clinic. She was diagnosed with MND in February last year, and admits she was apprehensive at first about coming to Mountbatten. “My consultant referred me here and initially when he said “the hospice”, I didn’t realise that is what they do, but everyone is brilliant and really supportive. They all introduce themselves and know your name; it’s so welcoming. It’s a lovely building, so light and airy; there is lots of art and it’s bustling with friendly people.”

Every week, Anita makes use of the rehabilitation gym at Mountbatten to keep her arms and legs as active as possible. Once every three months, she attends the clinic at Mountbatten’s John Cheverton Centre, where a range of professional support is available from a number of different organisations including Mountbatten’s Nurses, Isle of Wight NHS Trust, NRS Healthcare community occupational therapy, Millbrook Healthcare and MND Association. MND patients can get support from Mountbatten’s Nurses as well as other care at the same clinic, including dietary advice from a dietician, speech and language therapy, respiratory, physiotherapy and occupational therapy as well as counselling, if needed. Assessments for wheelchair provision are also carried out.

“It’s really helpful knowing that the professionals are on hand. If I bring something up in my weekly physio, they will just get in touch with someone from the group and they will phone me at home,” Anita said. “When your mobility is not good, it makes it so much easier that it’s all under one roof, and I get picked up and taken home by a Mountbatten volunteer driver, so that makes it so much easier.”

“I don’t read a lot about the condition, because I don’t want to scare myself, so I just ask if I’ve got something I need to know about. Everyone is at different stages so what is good for one person, doesn’t work for someone else.  It is also good to see familiar faces - everyone is going through it together, and there is support for partners and family, which is really good.”

So helpful is the support that Anita is receiving that she and her new husband have made the decision to stay on the Isle of Wight, rather than moving to the mainland where some of her family live. “My consultant neurologist said that the care here is like a centre of excellence. He feels that nowhere on the south coast could offer what Mountbatten does. My husband is adamant that I get the right care and that means we have decided to continue living on the Island, rather than move to Portsmouth.”

The new MND clinic has been set up thanks to grants from the Hampshire and Isle of Wight Community Foundation and the Hospital Saturday Fund.