talkhealth meets... Doro Pasantes
Doro Pasantes is CEO of The Brightwell, one of the 47 MS National Therapy Centres in the UK. All working as individual charities, the MSNTCs offer tailored therapy and services to those living with and affected by MS and other long-term neurological conditions.
Before her webinar about all things oxygen therapy, we asked Doro to tell us a little more about MSNTC, the network of UK therapy centres and the services that they provide.
How did you come to manage The Brightwell?
I started in 2007 at the Centre as an admin volunteer, then, in 2019 the Centre Manager retired so I applied for the post! My interest in MS was triggered by my work at the Centre. I quickly developed an interest in the effect that MS and other neurological conditions have on every aspect of people’s lives.
What is MSNTC?
MSNTC has been around since 1994. It's a membership organisation that aims to support the 50 or so independent MS Centres by guiding them to work to standards. The charity also provides a cascade system of support for oxygen therapy.
MSNTC provide a common voice, at a national level, to promote the work of all of the Centres. It raises awareness and ensures that every Centre is involved in the wider discussions about MS.
How did The Brightwell first start?
The Brightwell is a partnership between three different MSNTC charities. The West of England MS Therapy Centre (WoEMSTC) was the first to be set up in 1985. Since then, the charity has been dedicated to providing ongoing therapies and support to people living with MS and other neurological conditions whilst also providing support for families and carers. The Brightwell Neurological Support Centre (BNSC) was set up in 2005 to fund and aid the move of WoEMSTC and The Bristol Therapy Centre (BTC) is the trading arm of the partnership that provides therapies to those with other non-neurological conditions.
How does Brightwell differ from other therapy centres?
The Brightwell is different to other Centres because of our purpose-built facilities and location. We are based in South Gloucestershire, however, we serve a large area including Bristol, Somerset, North Somerset, Bath and Northeast Somerset as well as Monmouthshire. Although this is a large part of the country, we make sure to tailor our services to our Service Users by conducting regular surveys.
What specific treatments do you offer? Why are these so important for the management of MS?
Members can access physiotherapy, exercise classes, oxygen therapy, acupuncture, reflexology, aromatherapy massage, peer to peer support and talking therapies. On top of these services, we also offer clinics in bladder and bowel wellness, foot health, spasticity management as well as advice for benefits and working with MS nurses.
Most people diagnosed with a long-term neurological condition find that there isn't a magic pill they can take to cure or slow the progression of their condition. After coming to terms with the effects that a neurological condition can have on their lives and the lives of their families and carers, many people turn to a holistic approach to symptom management. Our Members tell us that taking back some of the control, sharing their experiences with others and having therapy gives them an added boost of energy which helps them to stay well.
Why has it been so important to make oxygen therapy accessible to more patients?
Oxygen therapy is simple. Service Users breathe in high dose oxygen (100%) under pressure. Oxygen is a natural antiseptic and anti-inflammatory so the benefits for some people can be life-changing. We have Members who have been having oxygen therapy for over 30 years week in week out to help them manage their long-term condition.
Although our oxygen therapy was initially for those with MS specifically, it became important for us to open it to others living with other neurological conditions. This is because, often, when you are first diagnosed with a long-term condition, the acute symptoms are dealt with and stabilised. After that, you go home and get on with things with little or no support. That’s why we offer our services on a self-referral basis to those who need them.
How important is the community at Brightwell?
Community is everything at The Brightwell! Every survey we carry out tells us that one of the most important aspects of the Centre is the safe and welcoming space it creates for people to share their experiences. It's a place where long-term friendships are developed because our Members can share their knowledge and understanding.
Why do your centres run on a self-referral basis?
Self-help is embedded in the ethos of most of the Centres and most definitely in the Brightwell’s. We work to help people to take back control in the areas that they can; through therapy and life choices. This makes it easier to get used to the things they have little control over like MS itself, the medication that they take and the interventions they can access.
What are your future plans for The Brightwell?
Our plans for the next year will make The Brightwell more economically and sustainably viable in years to come. We are currently developing a large storage area of the Centre into several versatile therapy rooms. We are also extending our reception area to make space for a community café because it is so important that our Members have a place where they can eat, drink and socialise - especially if they are visiting for a long stint of therapy!
We also have huge plans for our Oxygen Therapy department. We are planning to add a second barochamber to our services so that we can double the number of sessions on offer. We are also hoping to generate our own oxygen and break our reliance on external suppliers, which will have a huge impact on our long-term sustainability.
Click here to see where your nearest MSNTC therapy centre is.
If you’re living with MS or caring for someone who has the condition, be sure to check out our free myMS support programme and other resources on the talkMS hub.
Information contained in this Articles page has been written by talkhealth based on available medical evidence. The content however should never be considered a substitute for medical advice. You should always seek medical advice before changing your treatment routine. talkhealth does not endorse any specific products, brands or treatments.
Information written by the talkhealth team
Last revised: 7 July 2021
Next review: 7 July 2024