Specialist Support Team

Uniquely amongst the UK’s specialist care providers, Heathcotes Group has a dedicated Specialist Support Team providing a multidisciplinary clinical resource across our 72 residential services.


Headed by Heathcotes’ Head of Psychology & Clinical Director, Dr Peter Burbidge, our Specialist Support Team operates group-wide to provide expert clinical input and reinforce compliance with the Restraint Reduction Network (RNN) Training Standards. It offers a range of support for services that need a high level of specialist/clinical input or multidisciplinary collaboration.

The Specialist Support Team is an initiative developed by a project team from our Senior Leadership: Dr Peter Burbidge, Tracy Johnson and Natalia Lysiuk. It puts Heathcotes at the forefront of specialist providers in the UK and enables us to significantly enhance the resource available to our services, assisting the work they do to improve the lives of the people we support. The IST comprises a range of specialists working together to provide a range of key support functions, from Supervision to Functional Analysis.

The ready availability of the Specialist Support Team within Heathcotes’ organisation is extremely valuable for our Service Managers, our service users and our wider stakeholders. The Specialist Support Team works alongside the local community, mental health and learning disability teams (where they are involved or are commissioned) and provides more concentrated input where we are not able to access support from local services. The Specialist Support Team functions as a vital resource in a variety of critical circumstances.

When do we use the Specialist Support Team?

  • When we are admitting an individual as an emergency placement
  • When we are admitting a very complex individual
  • When an individual goes into crisis
  • When a placement is at risk of breaking down
  • When a functional assessment or Positive Behaviour Support plan is required
  • When specialist training is required for staff at services

Explaining Positive Behaviour Support

Positive Behaviour Support is a key aspect of our IST.

“Being a specialist provider brings with it some additional responsibilities, which we take very seriously. That’s why we introduced the Specialist Support Team.”

Director of Business Development, Natalia Lysiuk


Dr Peter Burbidge

Head of Psychology & Clinical Director

Peter joined the Heathcotes Group in October 2015 as Head of Psychology and Clinical Lead and is responsible for developing the new specialist residential treatment centres for service users with a Learning Disability and Personality Disorder. Peter trained in Hull and has worked as Lead Psychologist in a Community Mental Health Team (CMHT) for the last six years where he specialised in working with people diagnosed with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. He was also responsible for setting up, developing and running the Dialectical Behavioural Therapy (DBT) team and last year he obtained a Post Graduate Certificate in DBT from Bangor University.

He has also had specialist training in the diagnosis and treatment of people with Autistic Spectrum Conditions (ASC) and is a registered user of the Diagnostic Interview for Social Communication Disorders (DISCO). In his previous work for Heathcotes Peter has provided psychological assessments and interventions in our specialist Autism service at Whitley Bridge and our specialist Prader-Willi syndrome service in Bridlington.

Cathy Conway

Specialist Occupational Therapist

Cathy joined the Heathcotes group in 2016 as Lead Occupational Therapist/ Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Therapist. In that role she has supported the development of our two specialist services providing residential DBT-based treatment for Personality Disorder, at Hembrigg Park in Leeds and Moorgreen in Hucknall. Cathy brings 25 years’ experience of working in adult mental health services, including the last 20 years in a Community Mental Health team setting. From 2011-2016 Cathy specialised in working with people referred to the team who had a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder. She is trained in DBT and was extensively involved in setting up and developing Heathcotes’ DBT programmes. Cathy has a particular interest in sensory environments and strategies to support people in managing their emotions as well as the value of occupation in supporting recovery. She currently spends most of her time travelling between Hembrigg Park and Moorgreen, overseeing and facilitating the day-to-day running of the therapy input to these services.

Amelia Ernster

Assistant Psychologist

Amelia joined Heathcotes’ clinical support team in March 2018. She has a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Clinical Applications of Psychology including an empirical dissertation based on protective personality traits and post traumatic growth which involved participants from our Moorgreen services. During her studies she also spent three years working as a Samaritans listener, team leader and caller support.

Amelia is a vital member of our Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) team supporting our two specialist services for individuals with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, at Moorgreen and Hembrigg Park. She co-facilitates the delivery of DBT therapy to service users as well as generalising the skills learnt in the home.

Heather Woodman

Assistant Psychologist

Heather joined Heathcotes’ clinical support team in September 2018. She has a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Clinical Applications of Psychology which included a three-month placement at our Hembrigg Park services. She has also spent two years at York House rehabilitation hospital, initially as a Rehabilitation Support Worker and then as an Assistant Psychologist.

Heather has become an extremely valuable member of our Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) team supporting our two specialist services for individuals with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder, at Moorgreen and Hembrigg Park. Her input is integral to our DBT programmes which help service users to understand their feelings and teach them skills to manage their emotions and behaviour.

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