How far will the national strategy go to support people with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI)?

Last week the Government announced that they will be drafting a cross-departmental strategy on Acquired Brain Injury (ABI).

This came on the day before Chris Bryant MP’s Acquired Brain Injury Bill was due to have its second reading in the House of Commons.

HCML Specialist Rehabilitation Case Manager and Clinical Lead for Brain Injury Claire MacLaine reflects on this news and what will need to be considered as part of this strategy.

Having worked for nearly 30 years as a Speech and Language Therapist with people who have sustained a brain injury, a plan is pressingly overdue for coordinated acute care, rehabilitation therapy and community social support with vocational reintegration for this client group.

Consistent, thorough communication is needed between health care and social services from the time of injury, during therapy, and onto community care for long-term maintenance and support.

To enable this to happen, a brain injury experienced coordinator should be appointed at time of therapy commencement through to community living to manage this complex journey of recovery.

The collation and dissemination of information from medical and therapy staff, care staff, employers, family and friends, and most importantly, the client, will allow for all aspects of the person’s life to be addressed, not only the physical injuries sustained.

Without a good network of personal and professional support, a person with a brain injury is more likely to become socially isolated, develop mental health issues and addictions, which can lead to homelessness or risk of offending. This can be avoided with a robust strategy to support and enable the individuals with acquired brain injuries to live in a safe and healthy environment, maintain and form good relationships, socialise and engage with communities, and work in a manageable, fulfilling job.

The news that the Government will be drafting an Acquired Brain Injury strategy is extremely positive, but it will require impetus from health and social care services to liaise effectively and collaboratively with each other to support the physical, cognitive, emotional, social, familial, and vocational needs of people with acquired brain injuries. A clear strategy for a joined up approach across a range of public sector services and an appropriate level of funding will therefore be required to support a person back to a functional, enjoyable life.