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A new survey on the impact of COVID-19 on people affected by brain injury has found that more half of survivors have lost access to vital brain injury rehabilitation services because of lockdown.
Early rehabilitation following a brain injury can be crucial step in helping survivors to regain a degree of independence and relearn lost skills, including walking and talking. However, according to the survey published by the national brain injury charity, Headway UK, 57% of those who sustained their brain injury within the past two years say COVID-19 has negatively impacted their access to specialist treatment.
Some 50% of respondents have lost access to vital support that helps them to cope. A further 64% of those living with the long-term effects of brain injury reported a deterioration in their mental health due to measures implemented to control the spread of COVID-19. Almost two thirds (62%) say they now fear for their future.
The findings highlight the importance of ensuring those affected by brain injury are provided with appropriate physical, psychological, and social rehabilitation and support.
Neil Elliott, Director of Novum Law and Chairman of Headway Salisbury and South Wiltshire, says:
“The results of this survey are deeply concerning. The first two years following a brain injury are critical in terms of a patient’s long-term prognosis and any delay in receiving specialist rehabilitation can impact their ability to lead an independent life in the future.
“Headway Salisbury and South Wiltshire has pulled out all the stops to ensure help remains available to vulnerable individuals and their families during the lockdown and has responded swiftly to the outbreak by tailoring remote services to help brain injury survivors cope with the situation. Some of the measures include setting up a private Facebook page so that everyone can stay connected, tailored activities for clients to keep them occupied, weekly online ‘Headsmart Group’ meetings to help towards rehabilitation goals, not to mention weekly online ukulele sessions and virtual seated exercise classes.
“However, with local authorities under increasing financial pressure, charities such as ours are facing an uphill battle to survive. Unless the Government provides local authorities with adequate funding for community-based rehabilitation services, thousands of brain injury survivors and carers will either be left without support or be forced to rely on more costly state-funded care.”
The local authority commissions many of the specialist rehabilitation and support services provided by Headway Salisbury and South Wiltshire.
Following the coronavirus outbreak, only 4% of Directors of Adult Social Care from councils across England are confident that their budgets in 2020/21 are sufficient to meet statutory duties, according to a recent report by the Association of Directors of Adult Social Services (ADASS).
Recent studies published in The Lancet Psychiatry, suggest that COVID-19 could lead to an increase in the number of patients sustaining acquired brain injuries. Any such increase would put further pressure on Headway Salisbury and South Wiltshire’s ability to support those affected at a time when the charity is under such financial pressure.
Neil Elliott adds:
“If the specialist support and rehabilitation services Headway Salisbury and South Wiltshire provides were not recommissioned, many vulnerable people living in our area would lose the vital support they rely on.
“Local support groups like Headway, need to be here long after this pandemic, so we can continue to improve the lives of people affected by brain injury.”
To find out more about you can help Headway Salisbury and South Wiltshire visit https://www.salisburyheadway.co.uk. If you would like to donate to help Headway Salisbury continue its essential services and support for brain injury survivors click here.