About the Therapy Centres
There are over 50 independent therapy centres across the UK. The first was founded in Dundee in 1982, and since then many more have been set up by people with multiple sclerosis (MS) and their carers, with the original motto:
"self-help is our way of action"
This means that every person who uses a Centre has taken the decision to take personal charge of the management of their symptoms.
Each MS therapy centre is an individual charity which relies on dedicated volunteers and donors who give freely of their time and money to help people with MS. A high proportion of centre directors/trustees are people affected by MS. Staff and volunteers have appropriate training and qualifications for delivering therapy, such as HPC accreditation (for physiotherapists and nurses) and training from MS National Therapy Centres (see below) for oxygen operators.
MS therapy centres are spread widely across the UK and Ireland, and there is also one in Gibraltar founded in 2006. The majority of these are members of the national umbrella body, MS National Therapy Centres, which provides support to the centres in various ways (see Services, below). Many centres receive some funding from local NHS boards, but most are reliant on donations and fundraising activities for their income.
More than 15,000 people use the MS therapy centres each week, but there are estimated to be at least 100,000 people with MS in the UK, so many more people could benefit from the services provided to manage their symptoms.
About MS National Therapy Centres
It has always been recognised that the individual MS therapy centres need to stand together and a national body has existed ever since the centres began to operate. During the 1980’s the national body operated as Action and Research for Multiple Sclerosis (ARMS), and from 1992 as the Federation of MS Therapy centres. In 2002 it changed its name to MS National Therapy Centres (MSNTC).
MSNTC is a membership organisation which exists solely to support the continuing development of member centres using the power of collective action. It was created by the member centres and is a registered charity in England & Wales and Scotland. It is directed by the centres and partially funded by them.
Working together to improve the quality of life.
To support member centres in the delivery of services by harnessing the power of collective action.
- To provide a national voice which highlights the range of support required for people with MS and their carers
- To help member Centres to establish and maintain the highest standards of care for people attending for therapy and other services
- To support the Centre Managers, Therapists and Healthcare Professionals who serve the people in their MS community
- To educate the health and social care community about therapy use in the care of people with MS
- To work constructively and in partnership with other MS organisations
A common voice
It is more difficult for small charities to operate alone in a world which is increasingly sophisticated and competitive. However large the individual centres may be, collective action by many centres provides important benefits.
Significant financial benefits
We are able to negotiate preferential prices for:
- insurance (and better terms)
Supporting Centres in the delivery of Oxygen Treatment for people with MS and other conditions
- We have established The Cascade System of barochamber operator training, headed by our Technical Adviser, Mr David P. Downie MBE FIMT CHT E-BAS ECHCO and honorary Medical Adviser Prof Philip James MB ChB PhD DiH FFOM
- MSNTC members have access to a copyrighted Oxygen Treatment Reference and Training Manual. This document was recognised as setting the standard for delivery of oxygen treatment by the Healthcare Commission in 2008. Following this review, the MS Therapy Centres were de-regulated from the conditions of the Care Standards Act due to their outstanding safety record (see page on Oxygen Treatment)
Support for fundraising
We support the fundraising activities of member centres through:
- Fundraising workshops
- The annual MS Challenge
- London Marathon places
Finding ways of working with other MS Charities
Each has its own specific agenda, parts of which may overlap with, complement or be quite distinct from that of the others. What concerns each charity is the need to ensure that PwMS know they have advice and support to hand when they need it. What distinguishes MSNTC is that its members are independent charities themselves which are devoted exclusively to the delivery of immediate, practical physical and emotional support to PwMS and their carers.
MSNTC has a long-term aim to work in co-operation and harmony with each of these charities but the closest relationship is with the MS Society, the only other MS charity with a regional and local network of branches. This enables PwMS to engage with both branches and Centres in their locality. Accordingly, the two charities entered into an agreement in 2009 to embark upon a joint programme of co-operation which would enhance the ability of PwMS to live their lives to the full. See 'MS Society/MSNTC Joint Project Programme'.
Working together to improve what we do for people with MS
Perhaps most importantly, MSNTC carries out a wide variety of activities designed to help member centres to be even more effective in their role of helping people with MS:
- Improving communication between member centres, through Open Meetings and the informal network of centre Managers and Trustees
- The MSNTC website provides a wealth of detailed operational information for member centres
- The website has a directory of individual centres with information on their therapies and services
- MSNTC can advise member centres on how to develop and expand the services they provide based upon best practice. MSNTC also provides advice about potential sources of external support