Leicestershire, Leicester and Rutland Headway (Headway Leicester) is a local charity supporting people affected by brain injury, we offer specialist support and services to survivors and their families. With our face-to-face services currently on hold, our members cannot access their usual support at our day centre and support groups so we are launching our 'Digital Day Centre'.
Prior to 'Lockdown' Headway Leicester was supporting local brain injury survivors through our day service and outreach programme, this is now not possible but we are continuing to change people’s lives through a new way of working in response to COVID-19 but many are struggling with the lack of routine and structure to their day so we want to launch our online services to ensure they can continue to access the activities which aid their recovery and are essential to their rehabilitation.
Intially we were only able to offer regular wellbeing checks over the telephone and we have been sending out paper based activity packs but we know our members need a clear structure to their day and something more interactive. This is why we want to provide some of the activities brain injury survivors would normally engage with at our day centre within their own homes via over Zoom.
It was clear that not only are our members missing the activities and sessions they usually take part in but they are also missing contact with their friends and peers at the centre so the Digital Day Centre was born!
We are crowdfunding to cover materials required for the projects members will take part in, postage costs and paying tutors a fee to run Zoom workshops. In February we started our Creative Sketch Project which we hope to continue virtually.
We want to be led by our members so if there is something they would like to try, then we will have the funds say 'Yes! Lets have a go at macrame!" or send out a kit which includes everything they need.
Why is our project important?
The physical, emotional and cognitive effects can be devastating on an individual and result in feelings of social isolation and loneliness. Headway – the brain injury association has launched a new survey to highlight what impact COVID-19 and the subsequent lockdown has had on adults with brain injury and their carers.
We will be able to complete better safeguarding and wellbeing checks by being able to speak and see them at the same time.
- Feelings of isolation have become even more heightened as a result of COVID-19 and the majority of our members are struggling with the lack of routine making them extremely vulnerable
- Every 3 minutes someone in the UK is admitted to hospital with a head injury
- Each year 348, 453 people are admitted to hospital in the UK with an acquired brain injury
- We support not only the survivor but also their friends and family
- Without us, our members would not receive the specialist care and support they need
Being able to see our members over Zoom will help us to assess them better as we can see their body language, appearance and even their environment. Staff members have completed Zoom training (this was us celebrating #HatsForHeadway so we have had lots of practice about what works and what doesn't!)
Help us respond to this crisis as we adapt our vital service and launch our Digital Day Centre. Even though our members have been forced to stay indoors, we want to continue to provide our valuable 'Headway Community' online and enable the brain injury survivors we support to continue their rehabilitation and improve their confidence and assist them in becoming more tech aware.
What is an acquired brain injury?
An acquired Brain Injury (ABI) covers all the situations in which a brain injury has occurred since birth.
These include traumatic brain injuries(TBI), as well as tumours, stroke, brain hemorrhage and encephalitis, to name but a few. The effects of ABI are largely the same as with a TBI, however there are some key differences with an Acquired Brain Injury that makes treating and coping with it very different, depending on the cause, and area of the brain affected.
It’s important to note that every brain injury is unique. The severity of symptoms and their visibility varies from person to person, and that’s part of what makes dealing with it so difficult.
A brain injury can lead to a wide range of effects, including:
- Behavioral, a common change early in recovery is disinhibition, that is, loss of control over behaviour, resulting in socially inappropriate behaviour.
- Cognitive effects, including damage to skills such as seed of though, memory, understanding, concentration, solving problems and using language.
- Emotional effects, these are more difficult to see than the physical effect but can be the most difficult for the individual and their family to deal with.
- Fatigue can be present most of the time, following a brain injury and may not improve with rest and impacts on people not being able to do they activities they want to do.
- Physical, mobility can be affected following a brain injury. Movement can become slow and balance can be affected. Some survivors may need a wheelchair or other mobility aids.
The support we provide
Self-esteem, confidence and motivation can be seriously affected by a brain injury; therefore the focus of Headway House is “activity”. We encourage everyone to be actively involved in the wide variety of activities on offer.
With our face-to-face support currently on hold, we are launching our Digital Day Centre. We want to keep connected with our members and also offer them an activity to focus and complete which we know they enjoy and which also supports their recovery.
We know it's the social interaction which is what our members benefit from the most and this is what want to re-create this "community" albeit virtually so our members can see their friends and continue those vital friendships, whilst catching up with their key workers, enjoy a cuppa and a biscuit as well as take part in a tailored activity.
"I am really looking forward to chatting to everybody again and seeing their faces too. It's sad that this has become the 'norm' to talk this way but I'm actually looking forward to it, at a time when there is not a lot to look forward to"
"They encourage you in every way they can. I wouldn't be here if it wasn't for them"
"Thanks again for ringing today...I was feeling a bit down but you helped cheer me up and we always have a good laugh. I think the Zoom sessions are a great idea!"
"I find Headway has given me motivation to achieve more goals out of myself and learn to be more patient"