We'd love to keep you up to date on the real difference Reach are making to those who are impacted by brain injuries
Meet Heather, Director and founder of Reach.
Since qualifying as an occupational therapist in 1987, Heather has gained extensive experience in the field of neuro-rehabilitation. She has received a number of awards on account of her dedication and expertise, while her reputation has precipitated invitations to appear as a guest speaker at national and worldwide conferences.
When I was involved in setting up the Leeds Head Injury Team, I really believed that outpatient rehab was key for this client group, however I saw the downside of non-attendance and patients being clunked together for rehab sessions and the inability to transfer the skills taught to the real world of home and work.
Therefore, my colleague (Prof Feldman, neuropsychologist) and I decided we would set up Reach, a home based rehabilitation organisation to provide a truly comprehensive rehabilitation service based on a cognitive and functional approach; one that was based on real life rehab strategies in real life situations.
Rehab strategies were rehearsed and became habitual and routine, all dedicated to maximising a client’s optimal and functional performance. This, for me, is the ultimate reward working within this industry. Over the past 27 years we have grown and developed and now provide a National, home-based rehabilitation service for all levels of head trauma and brain injury, sticking with our core values.
Developing such a service that is totally based on clinical efficacy, and seeks the best possible outcomes, has been amazing. The Reach journey has been about progressive excellence, and I am proud that my fellow Reach clinical colleagues all share the same clinical ethos, drive and determination to get the best possible outcomes.
To this end we have been fortunate to win a number of industry awards for both our clinical services and for innovation. Importantly we work with a vast array of lovely clinicians, legal and insurance stakeholders, who all embrace and respect the rehabilitation offering for this client group. I feel very blessed to be part of our clients’ journey following a very traumatic time in their lives.
I’m loving being part of the handl group. It’s great to have access to a very experienced leadership team within the sector, and I’ve found that linking in with Financial, Commercial and Marketing directors, I’m learning lots.
The benefit of being part of a group is the collaboration within – working as a team across differing clinical areas is very inspiring. Graham Pulford was key in my decision to join the Handl family; I felt he really understood the rehab process and how Reach could further develop with his support. I feel as if Reach is on the next part of our journey.
Gosh, that’s tricky. I guess having the courage to leave the NHS, and then to create, over a number of years, an award-winning rehab organisation from a concept.
Perhaps, more specifically, when we won the British Insurance Awards at the Royal Albert Hall, presenting on Brain Injury rehab at the World Congress of Brain Injury in Canada, and the International Paediatric Brain Injury Society Conference in Rome. And, of course, being a valued contributor to the industry, with the ability to access an abundance of clinical research and work with lovely like-minded colleagues.
What inspires me? Doing the best I can and striving to make a difference.
My children also inspire me. I have 3 boys – 26, 24, 22 – with very different personalities, aspirations and goals. I am forever amazed by their tenacity, humility and work ethic – but their focus on fun too. They have engineered amazing values in their lives. I’m so proud.
Although I work hard I try to balance this with exercise, so a bit of running (slowly) and, increasingly, cycling. I love hiking in the hills here in Northumberland, but also Munro bagging in the Scottish Highlands! More recently I’ve been persuaded by friends to start sea swimming – which I love – but a wetsuit is needed in the North Sea! I’m also renovating an old cottage…but this could take years…
I ran the Edinburgh Marathon for my 40th and climbed Kilimanjaro for my 50th. So now I need a focus for my 60th. Thankfully that’s a few years off yet.
Turning a negative into a positive.
Find out more about Heather and the team at Reach.