PJ Care celebrates 21 years of neurological care

PJ Care
From left: Jan Flawn, Neil Russell, Milton Keynes mayor Amanda Marlow, and manager of Bluebirds Colleen Brothers

PJ Care has celebrated 21 years of providing specialist neurological care with a party to mark the anniversary of opening its first care centre.

Families and residents, staff, invited guests and the Mayor of Milton Keynes, Amanda Marlow, gathered in the gardens of the Bluebirds care centre together with the company’s founder, Jan Flawn. 

PJ Care, which offers care for adults with progressive neurological conditions, was established in 2001 by former nurse, Flawn, who identified the need for an age-appropriate environment for people with young onset dementia. Up to then, the only option for people who developed neurological conditions before the age of 65 was to be cared for in hospital or alongside the elderly in a care home.

After a long battle for acknowledgement and funding for her proposition, Bluebirds care centre opened offering 22 beds, which were filled in a matter of months. Since then, PJ Care has opened Mallard House, also in Milton Keynes, and the Eagle Wood care centre in Peterborough.

The centres also provide care and rehabilitation for people with acquired brain injuries and employ close to 600 staff.

Flawn retired from the business five years ago and PJ Care is now run by her son, Neil Russell.

Flawn said: “It’s been the most wonderful event. I can’t believe it’s been 21 years since I started PJ Care.  Neil and the entire team have done the most wonderful job in keeping our original values of care, compassion and commitment, not just towards the residents but the staff, too.  We are like one big family.”

Jan said she started PJ Care because of the frustrations of not being able to provide the care she felt her patients needed. “We didn’t have time to look after them properly,” she said. “They didn’t just need us to care for their physical needs, they needed us emotionally. That was especially true of people with neurological conditions; they were just people in beds and that wasn’t good enough for me. To have been able to do it myself and create centres where people have time to care, time to talk and give people the quality of life they deserve, is wonderful. I still remember welcoming our first resident. I was nursing at the time so I was hands on and my son, Neil, left the Diplomatic Service to come to work with me.”

Russell has since expanded the service to its current three centres, with plans to create a new care centre at Eagle Wood later this year, and another planned for Northamptonshire.

“I am incredibly proud of Mum and what she’s achieved,” Russell said. “We worked side by side in the beginning. I would help out with personal care, covering shifts in the kitchen, even cleaning toilets if that’s what was needed to get the job done. She knew there was a need for this kind of specialist service and demand is growing and growing. I am thrilled to be able to carry on what she created and although she’s retired now, I still discuss board papers with her and ask her opinion.”

PJ Care
The PJ Care catering team recreated Bluebirds in sponge cake