A recent BBC News piece highlighted the need in the U.K. for a full review of the treatment facilities and protocols for treating and supporting traumatic brain injury patients from injury, through rehabilitation, and return to life among the general community in proper supportive environments. Jim Stewart, a traumatic brain injury patient at the Musgrave Park Hospital Rehabilitation Center, awaits a return to his family’s home. Stewart cannot be placed with his family until the house is properly fitted with the equipment necessary for the specialized care his condition requires.
The Stewart family is one of many families struggling to support their loved ones with traumatic brain injuries. They have had to fight for assistance in restructuring their lives to be able to bring Jim Stewart back into their home. Their case underscores a community-wide lack of resources and strategies for caring for brain injury victims.
Stewart, like many other patients in the Regional Acquired Brain Injury Unit at Musgrave Park Hospital, has remained in the hospital long after he was authorized to be released into family or community care because there is nowhere for him to go to receive the support and care he needs. Nursing homes are not equipped to care for traumatic brain injury patients, and most families are even less so.
Traumatic brain injuries leave patients in a range of conditionsÂ¾from comatose and unresponsive, through a wide spectrum of physical and cognitive disabilities, to fully active and mobile with subtle cognitive dysfunctions. In more severe cases, families and hospital care staff are finding that most communities and family homes are completely unprepared to properly care for the brain injury victims over the long years of recovery.
Dr. John McCann of the Regional Acquired Brain Injury Unit at Musgrave lamented the lack of community institutions and support for brain injured patients. He called for the establishment of transitional care facilities to ease the transition from hospital to community living. Since brain injuries often leave both patients and their families ‘in a fog,’ as McCann said, the navigation of the path from initial treatment to community placement can be especially treacherous, frustrating, and difficult.
‘There is no nursing care home specifically for people with brain injuries and only a small number of homes are registered to provide the necessary care. However, these are full and there are waiting lists. It all puts pressure on patients’ families and on the availability of beds for other people who need specialized care,’ the BBC News article reported.
These issues demonstrate a growing need for community education and awareness, a system-wide review of hospital and rehabilitation care, governmental support and assistance for families and patients, and the construction of transitional care facilities designed specifically for brain injury patients.