A new building structure to house a new rehabilitation centre at AECC University College has been completed, and this stage in the development of the centre was celebrated with a Topping Out ceremony.
The ceremony involved putting the final brick into the outer building of the new clinical rehabilitation centre by local firm Mildren Construction Limited. The new 754 square metre building marks a significant investment of £4.5million in the future of the campus across facilities, works and specialist healthcare equipment. This investment will form an important part of the University College’s clinical service offering to the community.
The rehabilitation centre will provide nine treatment rooms and a large multi-zoned physical rehabilitation space to help people get back to health and mobility after injury or illness. It is also designed to be environmentally friendly, utilising sustainable materials in the build, installing a green roof and solar panels, using heat pumps and including bat boxes and bird boxes on the exterior. The downstairs space will have indoor-outdoor flow, and both the indoor and outdoor space will be available to use for rehabilitation exercises.
The new building is part of a broader programme of developments, which will also provide upgrades to other areas of the university campus, develop new patient services, provide new jobs, and increase the number of students studying health degrees. AECC University College has been working closely with partners across the Dorset Integrated Care System, other public, voluntary and independent sector partners to developing a suite of new training courses in key areas to help fill local workforce gaps.
The university college intends that its developments will impact positively on its local community and economy, ensuring that Boscombe is home to a specialist health sciences university and a recognised centre of excellence in clinical and rehabilitation education, care and research.
The new building is due to be opened from September 2022, and will enable AECC University College to offer a broader spectrum of clinical and rehabilitation services and support the delivery of new health courses.
The university college currently works in partnership with the NHS locally and across the South West and Dorset Clinical Commissioning Group (CCG), as well as private partners, to offer chiropractic treatment, specialist MRI, ultrasound, x-ray, physiotherapy, a breastfeeding clinic and first contact physiotherapy services. Self-referral is also possible for anyone needing support such as for sports injury rehabilitation, alleviating back, neck and shoulder pain or helping older people recover normal mobility and function after a fall. The new facilities will mean that clinical services in physical and sport rehabilitation, speech and language therapy, occupational therapy, dietetics and podiatry will also be available.
The new facilities will form a multi-professional environment for students to train in, under expert supervision of practising clinicians. Among the facilities is an open upright MRI scanner – one of only six in the country – which is helpful for patients who have mobility issues or suffer with claustrophobia and therefore are unable to tolerate the tightly confined space experienced within a standard MRI scanner as they sit and stand, rather than lie inside a tightly confined space.
The university college is also currently developing its simulated education and training facilities, with the development of a digital skills innovation suite incorporating radiology and radiotherapy simulation, immersive virtual reality and high-fidelity mannequins and a digital skills training hub to support educational delivery.
Professor Lesley Haig, vice chancellor of AECC University College, said: “This is a state-of-the-art facility and a flagship development that will make AECC University College one of the national leaders in health sciences education and care – with its heart in the community of Boscombe. Through our facilities the community receives access to practising clinicians across a wide range of healthcare professions, and our students get to learn and practise with cutting-edge technology. This provides a truly inspiring environment in which to delivery excellent education, clinical care and applied research.
“We are supporting Boscombe, Bournemouth and Dorset healthcare providers, working closely with our Dorset CCG partners to help support the healthcare system and provide community diagnostics. With the NHS experiencing additional pressure with Covid-19, we are able to help fill those gaps that we know exist in the system. We have also listened to our partners and where their workforce gaps are. In response to this we have formed an integrated rehabilitation centre – part of that is the new building and also the new services that are being delivered already.
“In five years’ time, AECC University College will be a world-class educational facility in terms of both our equipment and services offered through our clinics and our Imaging Centre of Excellence. We will double our student numbers – this means we can help more students into jobs to help the NHS, but we can also help more people in the community to recover from injury and live better for longer. The University College is working with international partners to collaborate in research developments in rehabilitation sciences, helping to push forward the boundaries of healthcare delivery to optimise patient outcomes.”
The new facilities were enabled by a £2.7million Getting Building Fund grant funding allocation by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), with additional funding provided by the university college.
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