Changing inpatient rehabilitation ward to an enriched environment for rural patients

Mrs Bronwyn Connelly1

1Northeast Health Wangaratta, Wangaratta, Australia, 2Victoria Stroke Clinical Network, Melbourne, Australia


Central to the goal of stroke rehabilitation is the aim to reduce the level of impairment experienced by increasing participation in therapy and meaningful activities. Inpatient rehabilitation forms an integral step for patients to regain function following a stroke. Inpatient rehabilitation environments are often not conducive to maximising recovery despite recent innovations and increased knowledge. Research indicates stroke clients spend up to 50% of their day in their room alone and inactive.

Environment enrichment is an emerging concept within stroke rehabilitation that aims to provide a stimulating environment to maximise clients’ recovery but to date has tended to a metropolitan based service change. The enriched environment model was implemented in January 2017 to address reduced activity levels, and to maximise recovery and function within a rural inpatient rehabilitation setting. This innovative concept includes increasing levels of activity and increasing opportunities for stimulating, enjoyable activities for inpatient stroke patients seven days a week.

Underpinning the changes was the guiding principle of improvement in service delivery to offer a comprehensive, truly team based approach to maximise patient recovery and improve quality of life. This model created an approach to facilitate social interaction and stimulation by creating an environment to respond to individual needs and goals without increased funds or staffing.

This presentation will also outline how the model has been successfully sustained and extended for all rehabilitation patients.


Bronwyn Connelly is a senior occupational therapist at Northeast Health, where she specialises in the management of complex neurological clients. Bronwyn has a special interest in developing models of care which incorporate research into evidence based rural clinical practice.

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