Step Ahead Plus
Step Ahead Plus is our free, national vocational assessment and rehabilitation service. It is for adults with an acquired brain injury who want to return to work, training or education.
A brain injury can affect your ability to work or study.
Step Ahead Plus will help identify changes you can make in how you work or study. These changes can help you improve your quality of life, remain in work or education, or find new opportunities. The programme also provides important information about brain injury to your employers, tutors or trainers, so that they can support you in your role.
What are the benefits of Step Ahead Plus?
- A skills and abilities assessment for work and education to identify strengths and challenges
- Feedback, recommendations and supportive strategies
- Goal setting and a personal plan
- Support for the employee, employer, student, tutor and trainer to create a sustainable work or education environment
What does the programme involve?
A Senior Occupational Therapist has a video call with you to discuss your main strengths and challenges. They may also carry out cognitive assessments or questionnaires with you.
An assessment takes place in-person in one of our centres, in Cork or Dublin. Our Occupational Therapists look at your work/education skills, knowledge, and experience. They also consider everything that’s happening in your life and how this affects you every day.
During an assessment, you will do practical tasks called work samples. These help identify your strengths and the challenges you may face returning to work or education.
At the end of the assessment, you will have a good idea of what you’re able to do and how you can use those skills in education, training or at work. The Step Ahead Plus team will help you develop a plan. This plan may include goals and strategies for managing your life every day and developing your skills.
Rehabilitation is available in groups or one-to-one. This is done over the phone or by video call.
Who can take part in Step Ahead Plus?
- Do you have a primary diagnosis (this means the main health condition you have) of acquired brain injury?
- Are you medically stable? (This means you are not having medical treatment now)
- Do you want to have your skills and abilities assessed to help you return to work, training or education?
If you meet these three conditions, Step Ahead Plus may suit you.
Step Ahead Plus is not suitable for you if you have any of these conditions:
- A degenerative condition such as Huntington’s Disease or Parkinson’s Disease
- Progressive organic disorders such as Alzheimer’s disease
- Alcohol-related brain injury
James is self-employed. He acquired a brain injury at the age of 52 after suffering a cardiac arrest. His greatest struggles following his brain injury were memory loss, concentration and fatigue. Thanks to Step Ahead Plus, James is now back at work and starting to get his life and independence back.
In 2018, Belinda had an aneurysm. She had to learn to walk and talk again. When she returned home, Belinda found it overwhelming to plan, make decisions, and get things done. She came to Step Ahead Plus because she wanted to get back to work. Thanks to the service, she began to flourish and her concentration improved.
The support I received was incredible, and helped me to achieve my vocational goals.Step Ahead Plus participant
It helped me greatly to understand my abilities and find a suitable job after my brain injury.Step Ahead Plus participant
As a result of the programme, I am now enjoying a really fulfilling volunteering role in my local community.Step Ahead Plus participant
50% of Participants
experienced increased financial independence and were able to come off social welfare as a result of the Step Ahead Plus programme.
Our research shows that participants in the Step Ahead Plus programme experienced improved sleep, routine, pride, finances, mental health, confidence, and the ability to self-advocate.
Long Term Success
A 2020 study, published in the Journal of Vocational Rehabilitation, showed that participation in meaningful work contributes to longer term success in achieving rehabilitation outcomes, and a good quality of life.
were supported on the programme throughout 2021. Of them, 35 progressed towards employment and 15 progressed towards education.
Engaged in employment activation training from May 2021 to June 2022.
12 employers created opportunities for participants of the Step Ahead Plus programme over a year-long period, from May 2021 to June 2022.
How do I get involved?
If you are an adult living with an acquired brain injury, you can refer yourself to the Step Ahead Plus service. When you apply, you will need to upload a document that confirms your acquired brain injury, for example a medical report or a discharge letter.
If you are a Professional making the referral on behalf of someone else, you will need to upload a signed Consent Form as part of the online process. Download the Consent Form here.
Download a referral form
You can also print out the referral form. If you are unable to print the form please contact us and we will post one to you.
Please note that you or your nominated representative is also required to sign the consent forms at the end of the document. Once complete, please mail your form to:
Katie O’Dywer, Area Administrator, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, National Services Area 2, St Luke’s Hospital, St Theresa’s Wing, Western Road, Clonmel, Co Tipperary, E91PR83
Our Waiting List
There is a lot of demand for our Step Ahead Plus service. Some people may be offered the service before other people. There are two reasons for this:
- You are at risk of leaving your job or education
- You have a job or place of education to return to
If you do not meet these conditions, you may have to wait longer for a place in our Step Ahead Plus service.
Find out more about Step Ahead Plus:
Contact – Emer Duffy, Programme Manager / Senior Occupational Therapist
t: +353 86 603 7353