Recovering from a spinal cord injury with Exemplar Health Care: Judith’s journey

15 May 2020

Picture of Judith, a resident at Greenside Court, sat outside in the garden

Judith suffered a spinal cord injury over 20 years ago after falling down the stairs. Last year, she came to live at our Greenside Court home in Rotherham and is supported by our care team to continue to do the things that she enjoys, including shopping, gardening and going to the local garden centre. 

On Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day 2020 Judith shares her story with us to raise awareness of spinal cord injury and the effect that it has on daily living and wellbeing. 

“I’ve worked in catering my whole life – from when I was 13 and worked in an ice cream parlour to 35 years working as a Chief Catering Officer with West Yorkshire Metropolitan Police.

“After I retired at the age of 50, I got a call from the Blind Association to ask if I would be interested in supporting the catering for their new centre – the centre sounded amazing and I couldn’t say no! I had a busy first few weeks planned, cooking for over 500 people in the opening three weeks. 

“The day after the opening, I was getting ready to go to the centre – I shouted to my husband that I was going for a shower … and that’s when it happened.  

“I have no recollection about how I fell, or if I fell down from the top to the bottom or from half way. The paramedics came and took me to hospital and I woke up 3 weeks later from a coma. My husband thought that he had done more damage by moving me, but if he hadn’t, I wouldn’t be here today.

“I spent almost two years in hospital before moving back home – I had rehabilitation to improve movement in my upper body, but my mobility is still limited. 

“Unfortunately after 21 years at home, I contracted double pneumonia and spent another 14 weeks in hospital before moving to Greenside Court in July 2019. 

“At first, I was petrified about moving into a nursing home. But one of the Support Workers, Alan, looked after me for the first few weeks and now I’m happy living here. The care team support me to still do the things that I love. I’m a keen gardener and love spending time outside and visiting the local garden centre – I’d really like to create a tranquil and relaxing outdoor area for everyone to enjoy here at Greenside. 

“I like that the staff are supportive in my day-to-day life and it’s nice to have them sitting with me in my room, supporting and interacting with me. Everyone is doing a fantastic job. I’ve also made friends with a few of the other residents and keep in touch with family and friends. 

“Over the next few months, I want to continue to improve my mobility so that I can get out more and go on more trips to different places.”

Spinal injury care at Exemplar Health Care 

At Exemplar Health Care, our community-based homes are equipped to provide specialist spinal injury care, enabling people to live close to their loved ones in a comfortable environment that’s built for recovery and rehabilitation.

Spinal injuries can affect people in different ways – more serious injuries are likely to have complex long-term effects on someone’s personality, behaviours, relationships and everyday living skills. 
That’s why our approach to rehabilitation is truly person-centred – we work with people and their loved ones, across multi-disciplinary teams, to understand their needs and co-design a care plan to help them to achieve their goals.  

Make a referral 

Read more about how our homes can support people who have experienced a spinal injury here

If you want to speak to someone about making a referral to one of our homes, please contact our friendly Referrals Team on 01709 565777 or email

Careers at Exemplar Health Care

If you or someone you know is interested in working with people who’ve experienced a spinal injury, Exemplar Health Care offers a range of rewarding careers. Find out more about your career options and vacancies here