While our organisation welcomes the long-awaited launch by the HSE of a new national rehabilitation implementation plan, we cannot stress enough the need for immediate action. We call on the government to start with a focus on community rehabilitation. As many of you know, every year in Ireland an estimated 19,000 people acquire a brain injury caused by stroke, road traffic accidents, brain tumours, falls and assault. But too many of these cases don’t get the rehabilitation they need.
Ongoing, hidden crisis of brain injury
In our view, it is an ongoing hidden crisis that thousands of brain injury survivors are left without the necessary rehabilitation that could help them live more normal lives. Worse still, we are still seeing many young people stuck in hospitals, psychiatric wards or nursing homes after brain injury. This is not good enough.
New HSE plan announced today
Today the HSE has announced a new implementation plan. And today, we would like to see the government prioritise investment in community rehabilitation because this will go some way to ensure people with brain injury can move from one service to another in a timely fashion and maximise their potential recovery.
Too many brain injury survivors left without rehabilitation
Our Research and Policy Manager Grainne McGettrick said: “Through our services we see the huge challenges people with brain injury and their families face every day. For these people, the worst has happened – their life is suddenly turned upside down after a stroke or car crash and they are fighting for their lives. But saving their life is just the beginning. For many brain injury survivors, they are left with nothing. We are witness to their difficulties in getting access to the rehabilitation services they need in order to recover and maximise their potential. Not to mention coping with the impact of not being able to work, family members suddenly having to become carers, experience financial stress and broken-down relationships.
“Rehabilitation services for people with brain injury in Ireland are seriously underdeveloped and under-resourced right across the pathway from hospital to home. Ireland is at the bottom of the European table. At a very basic level there are not enough rehab services for the level of demand and the piecemeal, patchy nature of the services has serious life-long consequences for the individual and their family. But positively, where rehabilitation services are provided, we can see how effective they are.”
The benefits of neuro-rehabilitation include:
– Realising an individual’s potential and improved patient outcomes
– Significant reduction in care giver burden
– Lessening of societal costs
– Lessening unnecessary dependency on health services
Need to fill the gaps in services
Ms McGettrick continued: “The HSE’s new implementation plan for neuro-rehabilitation is vital to improve and fill the gaps that are faced by thousands of families in Ireland in need of rehabilitation and support after brain injury. We very much support all efforts towards a more integrated pathway for brain injury survivors which will in turn, not only benefit individuals in their recovery but it will also reduce delays in discharge and free up hospital beds. However, we now need to move to action and commence implementation. We want leadership from the Department of Health and our politicians.”
How the HSE plan will work
Under the new implementation plan, the HSE approach proposes a national framework of acute, inpatient and specialist community services through:
– Clear governance structures with identifiable leadership and accountability
– Development of local implementation teams in local HSE areas
– Development of neuro-rehabilitation services into a Managed Clinical Rehabilitation Network (MCRN) model
The HSE’s national neuro-rehabilitation implementation plan (2019-2021) also recognises that continued investment in these services will need to be prioritised beyond the 3-year period.
Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is the country’s leading provider of community rehabilitation for those of working age (18-65 years) living with and recovering from an acquired brain injury. At any one time, the national not-for-profit organisation delivers dedicated individual rehabilitation and support to 1,100 brain injury survivors and their families, to rebuild their lives.
For more information see our policy briefing here.