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Too many families face uphill battle to access brain injury services

Sep
21

Too many families face uphill battle to access brain injury services

In our pre budget submission to government, we are calling for greater investment in case management services to reduce discharge delays, care costs and improve quality of life.

More than 13,000 people acquire brain injuries in Ireland annually but we know first hand that many families face a lone, uphill battle to access neuro-rehabilitation services. This could be alleviated by greater government investment in brain injury case management services.

Families are struggling to cope

Thousands of lives are devastated in Ireland every year by brain injuries acquired through falls, road collisions, attempted suicides and strokes resulting in a silent epidemic leaving families struggling to cope in every corner of the country. This is because there is a gaping need for investment in case management services not only to ensure brain injury survivors have access to appropriate services but also to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and delayed discharges.

Our National Services Manager Dr Karen Foley, said: “We have had brain injury case managers in the East of the country since 2006 and their effectiveness with regard to value for money is proven. Now we are calling for that case management approach to be replicated across each HSE CHO area so we can provide basic coverage for families of brain injury survivors nationwide. Currently, there are little or no services covering Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow. While services that exist for Dublin are severely under-resourced and under pressure.”

Benefits of case management are proven

An acquired brain injury case manager acts as a single point of contact for families and provides a clear pathway to support an individual’s transition from acute settings through post-acute and into community rehabilitation services. Research in the UK has shown that case management for complex cases of brain injury has enhanced quality of life for individuals. Additionally, earlier research focused on the northeast of Ireland (Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Louth) showed acquired brain injury case management services drove net savings for our health service of €3.5m due to:

·       reduced level of support required for individuals

·       reduced admission to nursing homes and hospitals

·       reduced discharge delays from nursing homes and hospitals

We know brain injury specific case management is hugely cost effective and reduces the burden of care by avoiding expensive hospital admissions.

“I am someone families can reach out to.”

Our Case Manager for the Cavan/Monaghan region Kathleen Brennan, said: “A brain injury is a sudden onset of trauma for a family and the individual and they feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn. My role as case manager is exactly designed for these times of distress. I am someone families can reach out to, a point of contact that listens to their need and identifies resources applicable and available to their situation. In the early days, there is often a high level of contact. There are times when younger people are inappropriately placed in nursing homes and being able to support these younger people to return home or access services in the community is very important. It’s extremely rewarding, working with people in this way.”

“Getting my independence again.”

Leanne Matthews, 49-year-old mum of two suffered a severe stroke in 2016 that caused left-sided weakness and loss of sight in one eye. Leanne is currently placed in a nursing home in Monaghan and says she is “the youngest person in the place”. But thanks to the efforts of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s case management service, she is now supported to be at home for half of the week. Leanne said: “Without the help of Acquired Brain Injury Ireland’s case manager and the HSE team she works with, it would be unlikely that I would ever get home at all but have to live permanently in a nursing home. She has been my link to the community services. Now that I have found my voice and able to speak for myself again, she is supporting me to get my independence again.”

We are calling for investment of €542,000 per annum to cover eight full-time equivalent case manager roles in areas of critical need including: Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim, West Cavan (CHO 1), Galway, Roscommon, Mayo (CHO 2), Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary, East Limerick (CHO 3), Kerry, North Cork, North Lee, South Lee, West Cork (CHO 4), South Tipperary, Carlow/Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford (CHO 5), Wicklow, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin South East (CHO 6), Kildare, West Wicklow, Dublin West, Dublin South City, Dublin South West (CHO 7), Dublin North, North Central, Dublin North West (CHO 9).

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is Ireland’s leading provider of community rehabilitation for those of working age (18-65 years) living with and recovering from an acquired brain injury.

To read our full pre budget submission or useful infographic, click here.

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