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

Director of Clinical Services

Peter is a Consultant Clinical Psychologist he joined the Heathcotes Group in October 2015 as Head of Psychology and Clinical Lead and was responsible for developing the new specialist residential treatment centres for service users with a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD).

Peter trained at the University of Hull and has worked as Principal Clinical Psychologist in the Hull Community Mental Health Team. Peter initially specialised in working with adults with Autism Spectrum Conditions (ASC), he wrote his doctoral thesis on the experience of parenting children with ASC and has had specialist training in the diagnosis and treatment of people with ASC and is a registered user of the Diagnostic Interview for Social Communication Disorders (DISCO).

Peter first became interested in working with people with a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder in 2007 and has specialised in working with this client group since 2009. Peter is trained in Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) and has a Post Graduate Certificate in DBT.

As Director of Clinical Services Peter oversees the Therapy Team, Positive Behaviour Support Practitioners and the Specialist Support Team.

Cathy Conway

Specialist Occupational Therapist (Acting Head of Therapy)

Cathy joined the Heathcotes group in 2016 as Specialist Occupational Therapist/ Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) Therapist. In that role she has supported the development of our two specialist services providing residential DBT for people with a diagnosis of Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), at Hembrigg Park in Leeds and Moorgreen in Hucknall. Cathy brings 25 years of experience of working in adult mental health services, including 20 years in a Community Mental Health team. Cathy has specialised in working with people with EUPD since 2011 and she was instrumental in setting up a DBT service for people with this diagnosis in the Hull Community Mental Health Team. 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 oversees the therapy at Hembrigg Park and Moorgreen. She is also part of the Specialist Support Team and provides clinical input to other services across the organisation.

Amelia Ernster

Senior Assistant Psychologist/DBT Therapist

Amelia joined Heathcotes’ clinical team in March 2018. She has a BSc in Psychology and an MSc in Clinical Applications of Psychology including a 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.

Since joining Heathcotes Amelia has trained as DBT Skills Trainer and has under gone further intensive training to become a DBT Therapist. Amelia is a vital member of our Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) team, she has been key in the development of the DBT Skills Groups and other therapeutic groups within the Specialist Services. Her current focus is on working as an individual therapist and she also contributes to the DBT Skills groups and she is also able to use her therapy skills to support other individuals and services across the Heathcotes organisation.

Sarah Moulton

Registered Mental Health Nurse/DBT Therapist

Sarah joined the clinical team in September 2020 bringing with her a wealth of expertise and experience. Sarah is a Registered Mental Health Nurse and a Dialectical Behaviour Therapist, she has worked in a variety of areas of mental health and learning disabilities including acute care, crisis and home treatment and forensic nursing. Sarah has experience working as part of a community team and she has worked in inpatient settings. Sarah has also worked as a registered care home Manager.

Sarah predominantly supports the two specialist therapy services at Hembrigg Park and Moorgreen where she works as an individual therapist and group facilitator, she is also part of the Specialist Support Team giving advice and guidance and providing specialist training where required.

Billie Gaynor

Assistant Psychologist

Billie joined Heathcotes’ specialist support team as an Assistant Psychologist and DBT Skills Trainer in June 2020. She has a BSc in Psychology and her dissertation investigated the effects of nonverbal information on impression formation in individuals with varying amounts of autistic traits. Billie has worked with adults with various learning/physical/mental health difficulties for over 4 years. Before joining Heathcotes, Billie worked as a nursing assistant in a high-secure forensic hospital, a listener for Nottingham Nightline, and a support assistant for a theatre group for adults with learning disabilities.

Billie is an integral member of our Dialectical Behaviour Therapy (DBT) team that supports our two specialist services for individuals with Emotionally Unstable Personality Disorder (EUPD), at Moorgreen and Hembrigg Park. Billie delivers DBT skills training to service users which helps them understand their feelings and teach them skills to manage their emotions and behaviour, as well as organising and facilitating other therapeutic activity groups within the specialised services. Additionally, Billie has taken an active role in the training of support workers in services throughout the country, teaching them the basics of EUPD and DBT. Billie also uses her psychological skills in observation, data collection and analysis to support the Positive Behaviour Support Team.

Megan Charvill

Assistant Psychologist

Megan joined Heathcotes clinical support team in November 2021. She has a BSc in psychology from Sheffield University in which she completed a dissertation looking at children’s cognitive abilities. During her studies, Megan worked as a rehabilitation assistant for individuals with brain and spinal injuries before moving on to work full time as a Crisis Recovery Worker after graduating.

Megan’s role is to support the DBT Skills group facilitators and to develop other therapeutic groups within the specialist therapy services whilst she is training to become a DBT skills trainer. Megan also uses her psychological skills in observation, data collection and analysis to support the Positive Behaviour Support Team.

Gina Bastiani

Trainee Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner

Gina joined the clinical support team in October 2021. She has a BSc in psychology from the University of Sheffield, where her dissertation focused on the effect of depression and emotional regulation on sleep. To support her studies, Gina worked as a support worker in various settings including forensic step down services, neurological injury, autism and learning disabilities. Gina’s previous roles include coaching and mentoring and adoption and fostering panel services. Gina is trained in DBT skills, Acceptance and Commitment Therapy and is a qualified mindfulness teacher.

Gina is a part of the Positive Behaviour Support Team in a practitioner role.

Jess Dyson

Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner

Jess has been working in health and social care since 2013 and has a special interest in working with behaviours that challenge. Jess has worked in specialist behavioural units first with BUPA and then for St Anne’s Community services as a support worker and she has worked as a specialist support worker in a step down forensic unit. Whilst working for St Anne’s Jess was part of the Positive Behaviour Support (PBS) team and in 2017 she won the British Institute for Learning Disabilities (BILD) award for outstanding practice.

Jess joined Heathcotes in 2018 as part of the Learning and Development Team here she developed her interest in PBS and in the reduction of physical interventions through her role as a Non Abusive Psychological and Physical Interventions (NAPPI) trainer and as a PBS coach. From this it was a natural progression to join the Clinical Team as PBS practitioner and she has been in this role since July 2021. At Heathcotes we like to promote continued Professional Development and Jess is currently working towards a Certificate in Education and a Level 5 Professional Diploma in PBS.

Cathy Elias

Positive Behaviour Support Practitioner (Acting Lead)

Cathy joined Heathcotes PBS team in January 2021. Cathy has an Advanced Professional Diploma in PBS and is a BILD PBS Coach. Cathy has 20 years’ experience as a Behaviour Specialist, with experience working in both Supported Living and Residential services for Adults with Learning Disabilities and Autism. Cathy is particularly interested in Autism and has studied Sensory Processing and Intensive Interaction. Prior to working as a Behaviour Specialist, Cathy taught Key Skills in Communication and Computing at both GNVQ and BTEC National levels.

Since joining Heathcotes, Cathy has been instrumental in introducing PBS support to services across all regions. Cathy is a member of the Restraint Reduction Network and is committed to reducing the use of physical interventions and restrictive practices in our services. This work has included observation, data analysis, functional assessments/brief behaviour assessment, and training of staff in PBS and Intensive Interaction.

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