An innovative project which has enhanced the care of stroke patients in Croydon through unconventional means has won a national award.

CREATE, run by a team of clinical and social science researchers, gives patients at Croydon University Hospital access to weekend exercise, in-ward concerts and drop-in sessions for the Stroke Association charity.

The project claimed the prize for Patient, Carer and Public Involvement at the annual Stroke Forum conference in December.

Dr Karolina Gombert, CREATE's lead researcher, said: “It’s been fantastic to share expertise with such a positive ward and to see what we can achieve together.

"This is a great partnership between different organisations and – most importantly of all – with patients.”

CREATE (collaborative rehabilitation environments in acute stroke) work with patients on three other stroke wards in London and Yorkshire.

There are plans to introduce a therapy dog and in-ward acting sessions in the near future.

Last year Croydon's Heathfield 1 ward featured on ITV News for using virtual reality and movement sensor technology to help patients recover strength and coordination.

Dr Karen Kee, a Consultant Stroke Physician in Heathfield 1, said: “Having a stroke can be devastating for someone and for their loved ones.

"We’ve learned that a humdrum, basic ward environment isn’t always stimulating enough to provide the best stroke rehabilitation, so we’ve made it more dynamic – and it works! Our ward is still relaxing and comfortable but patients can also be more involved in their recovery.”

The project will continue its work on Heathfield 1 throughout 2019.

Geoffrey Charman, 72, is a former Heathfield 1 patient who was well enough to return home early in January

He said:“My stroke-related fall left me badly bruised and using a wheelchair.

"I’m now standing and able to get on with my life, thanks to the wonderful hospital staff. The special activities helped me cope and get my independence back. I think they are a great idea.”