Acquired Brain Injury Ireland Calls for funding to rehabilitate 90 young people in nursing homes into the community.
Funding is being sought to move 90 young people out of inappropriate placement in nursing homes and back to the community – as part of as budget submission announced today by Acquired Brain Injury Ireland (ABII).
ABII said with funding support of €4m in 2023 it can take the lead, and work with the HSE, to support 90 people on a rehabilitation pathway towards living independently in the community, with a much improved quality of life.
ABII Chief Executive and Co-Founder Barbara O’Connell said the organisation has the expertise to deliver this move, which would transform the lives of many people and their families.
She highlighted how the 2021 Ombudsman’s Report, Wasted Lives, reported a major concern with the inappropriate placement of 1,300 younger people with disabilities, including brain injury, in nursing homes across Ireland – as there was no alternative or rehabilitation programme available to them.
The Ombudsman criticised this as unacceptable and called on Government, the Department of Health and the HSE to address it.
Ms. O’Connell said ABII has the expertise to address this issue and could work with the HSE to begin this process and rehabilitate 90 people in 2023.
“It is now more than two years since the Ombudsman shone a light on the persistent and inappropriate confinement of too many young brain injury survivors in nursing homes, where they are denied their right to rehabilitation.
“Every day spent in a nursing home is one more day wasted in the life of a young person. In this budget, we are calling on the Government to start a response and invest in our brain injury survivors so that they can experience the freedoms they’re entitled to and live the lives they deserve.
“More than 60% of the brain injury survivors in ABII’s assisted living houses have come from nursing homes. And 50% of all residents in our services ultimately return to live independently. With funding we can provide this same pathway for more people.”
One former nursing home resident is Brian Hogan, a brain injury survivor who lives in ABII’s assisted living house in Clarecastle. In support of ABII’s ask for Budget 2023, he described his own lived experience: “From a nursing home to a rehabilitation house, there’s no comparison. They are two completely different things. At ABII, they teach you how to get your independence back. You’re not just withering away, somewhere you don’t belong. When you lose your independence through injury, that’s heartbreaking, but to win it back again is liberating. Thanks to ABII I can see a future for myself again, and that’s what rehabilitation has done for me: It’s opened the door to my future.”
With an allocation of €4m in Budget 2023, ABII could establish three National Assessment Teams to:
1. Assess the needs of those under 65 inappropriately living in nursing homes across Ireland
2. Set out a pathway to support approximately 90 them to move back to community living in 2023, with potential for more people each year subject to ongoing funding
3. Crucially, prevent future admissions.
This approach speaks directly to the Ombudsman’s own recommendation, affirmed in the ‘Wasted Lives’ report by the Department of Health, to adopt a care and case management approach to assess and review individual needs, supports and alternative living options.
Ms O’Connell concluded: “For more than two decades our organisation has proven how access to specialised rehabilitation within local communities can transform lives. It gives people with a brain injury back their independence and eases the caring burden on families and the State. However you look at it, resourcing rehabilitation just makes sense. We can end the injustice for many more young people, but we urgently need the Government’s support.”
ABII has long championed the message that access to rehabilitation is a right, not a request. In 2018, the Irish Government committed to recognising that same right, when it ratified the UN Convention on the Rights of People with Disabilities. Yet despite more people surviving the major trauma of brain injury, many young survivors are still forced to live indefinitely in nursing homes for older people, or in community hospitals without access to the specialised rehabilitation supports they need to rebuild their lives. The reality is that rehabilitation is a geographical lottery where services are under-resourced, under-developed, and where access depends on one’s Eircode.