Merlin MS Centre



November 2015

People in Sithney, living with Multiple Sclerosis (MS) and other neurological conditions, can now access specialist physiotherapy and exercise sessions closer to home, through a new service launched by Cornish charity, the Merlin’s MS Centre.

Cornwall’s only purpose-built MS therapy centre, which is based in St. Austell, is providing a weekly outreach service as a pilot project at Aspire South West, Hayle. This is a further development for the charity which has been doing some home visits to assess the needs of people living with long-term neurological conditions.

The team at the charity provides one to one sessions with a specialist neuro physiotherapist once a month and weekly group exercises classes, both seated and standing, designed to help people better manage their symptoms, improve health and well-being, and reduce isolation. The sessions are held every Wednesday from 10.30am – 12 noon – people are asked to book in advance.

Located just off the A30 the venue is at Marsh Lane Industrial Estate, and therefore accessible for existing and new clients living in areas including: Marazion, Penzance, St. Ives, Hayle, Camborne, and Redruth. The aim is to also offer carers and service users a chance to get together for refreshments after the exercise sessions at the venue or at a nearby cafe. The charity is currently looking for volunteers who could help serve refreshments once a week or arrange social gatherings for the groups.

Melissa King, a neuro physiotherapist, who heads up the therapy team at the charity, said: “This provides a much-needed and valuable service for people living in this part of Cornwall, who would otherwise struggle to get to the centre due to difficulties with transport, mobility or travel costs. We are delighted to be based at this venue taking some of the services offered here at the Merlin MS Centre out into the community”

Rob Johns, co-owner of Aspire Southwest Ltd said: “We are pleased to be able to partner with the Merlin MS Centre and bring such a valuable service to the local area. Therapy sessions and ongoing rehabilitation are vital for people living with a neurological condition and we are looking forward to working closely with the charity to improve the long term care needs of the people using the service.”

Cornwall has one of the highest rates of MS in the country with more than 1000 people diagnosed with this incurable condition, which is normally diagnosed in young adults typically aged 20 to 40.

Since the centre opened in 2009, it has seen a significant growth in service users who have other neurological conditions which have similar symptoms to MS including difficulties with mobility, balance, speech, cognitive function, as well as fatigue, bladder and bowel problems.

Supervised exercise therapy involving moderate progressive resistance is recommended by NICE (National Institute for Health and Care Excellence) to help people with MS improve mobility and reduce fatigue. (NICE clinical guideline 186 – Issued October 2014

Funding to launch the pilot project came from grant making trusts. The group exercise sessions will cost the same as at the Merlin MS Centre (between £3 and £4) – while one to one physiotherapy is £17 per session for MS/£40 for non MS. Anyone in receipt of Personal Independent Payments (which are replacing Disability Living Allowance) can use this income to pay for the sessions and MS Vouchers are also accepted. Booking for the sessions must be made in advance by calling the centre on 01726 885530

If successful, the charity will look to offer outreach services in other parts of Cornwall.

More Information

The Merlin MS Centre is an independent charity located in mid-Cornwall, which provides a range of expert care, support and therapies predominantly for people whose lives are affected by MS, but also for those with other neurological conditions such as Parkinson’s, Stroke, ME/Chronic Fatigue Syndrome. There are on average 60 people a day who come to the centre. The charity receives no Government funding and therefore derives its income from fundraising activities in the community; hiring of the centre’s conference and therapy rooms to external clients, plus income from grant making trusts.

Cornwall has the highest rate of Multiple Sclerosis (MS), in mainland Britain, with more than 1000 people currently diagnosed with the condition – twice the national average- although the reason for this is not known. MS is a chronic condition that affects the central nervous system. Symptoms include loss of mobility, visual impairment, decreased cognitive function, incontinence, and difficulties with speech or swallowing.

The therapies provided by our organisation include individual and group physiotherapy, occupational and exercise therapy; podiatry; hyperbaric oxygen therapy and complementary therapies. In addition the charity provides twice weekly day respite, enabling carers to have a break from their caring duties, plus a number of social groups.

The support services include counselling, carer support, advice and information (the centre is an information hub for the MS Society) and the charity also has a free adapted mini-bus service. All services are heavily subsidised or provided free of charge.

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