Repeated lockdowns have left the majority of us feeling lonely and isolated, as well as impacting our mental health. However, have you ever thought about the concept of living every single day of your life in a lockdown? For those with brain injuries, living your life in isolation can be an unfortunate reality. During Action for Brain Injury Week, we are focusing on raising awareness for those living in social isolation after a brain injury.
Active Care Group is proud to provide care for those with acquired brain injuries, traumatic brain injuries and other neurological conditions. We have seen first-hand the effects a brain injury can have on a survivor’s interactions with society and our staff work hard every day to look out for warning signs, and to get individuals involved back into the community. For this article, we have spoken with Service Manager Stephanie at Abington View, one of our Christchurch Group neuro-rehab residential services, and our Service Manager Suzie Smith at Christchurch View who have given us an insight into what steps our staff take to ensure our service users are receiving the best quality of life.
Headway stated, “The effects of brain injury, such as problems with memory, information processing, or speech, compounded by a lack of understanding of this often hidden disability, can leave survivors lacking the confidence to interact with society.” Tell-tale signs that brain injury survivors are feeling isolated are behaviours such as being more withdrawn, quiet, showing unexplained aggression, or spending more time in their room. Stephanie commented that at Abington View, they have developed such great communication with the residents that they feel comfortable enough to initiate the conversation with our carers whenever they are feeling down. However, the team will still record unusual behaviours and address issues with service users which will continue to be documented with all carers and therapists.
To help those living with brain injuries combat feelings of seclusion, our carers spend time planning activities and social events for everyone including our staff, service users, family, and friends to enjoy together. Before COVID-19, we encouraged all service users to attend local restaurants, theatres, and leisure activities as often as possible to reduce feelings of social isolation. We view our communal areas as a hub of socialisation for our residents equipped with televisions, music players, pool tables, and more. Stephanie notes that Abington View’s residents have developed great friendships with one another, thus even at home our residents are able to interact and form connections with housemates. Suzie commented that, “At Christchurch View, we facilitated various activities such as dance and movement, arts and crafts, quizzes, karaoke and trips to the local park”.
During lockdown the fun didn’t stop, and we were inundated with wonderful photographs and videos of our people enjoying barbecues, board games, birthday celebrations, Zoom calls, karaoke and nature walks. These can be seen all over our website and social media platforms Facebook, LinkedIn and Twitter. Stephanie also praised Headway for releasing publications tailored to lockdown over on their YouTubeplatforms providing simplistic, informative videos to show residents and help ease any concerns. For those suffering, Suzie recommended sending care packages, reaching out to friends and family through phone calls or FaceTime, and perhaps window visits if possible. We understand that lockdown can be a confusing time for those suffering with brain injuries, and the sudden closure of regular activities and added risk to health can be extremely difficult to comprehend. To take the extra step, 1-1 sessions were scheduled even more regularly to help come up with solutions for feelings of loneliness during these times.
If you or someone you know is suffering from feelings of loneliness and isolation, we urge you to visit Headway.org.uk for further resources and to seek guidance about improving life after a brain injury.