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The effects of brain injuries can be devastating, impacting all areas of your life, including your work, family relationships and friendships.
Research estimates that 60% of brain injury survivors can never return to their previous jobs. At the same time, many people with brain injuries lose friendships or their spouse or partner.
It’s therefore not surprising that people living with a severe brain injury can feel lonely or isolated. They may also have a low mood or feel depressed, particularly if they can’t get back to work and are unable to take part in their usual hobbies and leisure activities.
In this blog, specialist personal injury solicitor Louise Gardner from our Swindon team explains the vital role social workers can play in helping individuals and their families who might be struggling with a brain injury.
Dealing with a brain injury or ABI (acquired brain injury, as it’s sometimes called) is not easy. On top of the significant physical and mental challenges, people with ABI may struggle financially if they can’t return to their previous workplace or have trouble getting new work. They may need to rely on the benefits system.
Social workers can help prevent or reduce the impact on brain injury survivors’ lives and help their families and loved ones, providing support, information and guidance.
Social services can also arrange much-needed care following a brain injury; however, the support and funding people receive depends on their care needs and how much money they have to contribute to the cost of care.
Many people with ABI may be eligible for personal injury compensation if they have been injured in an accident caused by someone else. Social workers can sometimes help by directing brain injury survivors to specialist personal injury law firms, like Novum Law, that can offer expert legal advice and advise if there is likely to be grounds for making a successful claim.
Other support organisations social workers can point brain injury survivors and their families and carers to include specialist brain injury case managers, financial advisors and charities such as Headway UK.
Last year, the University of Essex launched a research project to improve social workers’ knowledge of ABI and to help them deliver even better support to brain injury survivors and their families.
The project involves developing better educational resources for social workers, service users and their families, creating useful materials to support advocacy when working with social workers and increasing help and support for social workers within an interdisciplinary team.
The collaborative project involves a team of experts from the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum (UKABIF), the Brain Injury Social Work Group, and International Network for Social Workers in Acquired Brain Injury.
Professor Andrew Bateman, from Essex’s School of Health and Social Care is leading the research project. He explained that in worst case scenarios, he has seen suicides and other serious outcomes such as drug addiction, crime and homelessness among brain injury survivors.
Professor Bateman says: “The timing of this research is especially important after some recent tragic serious case reviews that have pointed at the need for this research and training.”
This includes the death of a 42-year-old Brighton man, James, who had an acquired brain injury. James’ case prompted a Safeguarding Adult Review following concerns around his substance misuse, vulnerability and ability to live independently.
The review found the current safeguarding system to be “insufficient” and said there was a “lack of expert knowledge in brain injury among the agencies working to protect him”.
As a result of the review, UKABIF collected more than 100 signatures from health and social work experts. This was sent to Social Work England and the Secretary of State for Health, calling for improved training for social workers.
Louise Gardner says:
“Social workers play an integral role in the support and rehabilitation of brain injury survivors, and it’s essential that they get the right education to provide this to the best of their ability.
“We’re delighted to see more funding being awarded to improve understanding of brain injury survivors. Sadly, cases like James’ show that the safeguarding system can let some people down. It’s a positive step to see gaps in social workers’ brain injury knowledge being addressed, and we are keen to see any improvements that come out of the project.”
If you or a loved one have suffered a brain injury due to an accident or injury that wasn’t your fault, contact our specialist solicitors today.
Our experienced team of specialist personal injury solicitors can help no matter how challenging the claim is, and we will always work hard to get the maximum compensation, rehabilitation and specialist care you need to move on with your life.
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