Rehabilitation services and brain injury

 

Sir, – Breda O’Brien’s article “Older people’s lives are wasted too” (Opinion & Analysis, May 8th) sheds light not only on the all too frequent denial of human rights of those – of all ages – prematurely confined to nursing homes, but also on the systemic health and social challenges that lead them there.

For years, our organisation, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, has championed the message “Don’t save me, then leave me”.

Despite more people surviving the major trauma of brain injury, a persistent lack of State investment in appropriate supports and accommodation means that many of the 19,000 individuals who acquire a brain injury annually are never given the opportunity to regain their independence and realise their full potential. Their potential for recovery and rehabilitation is unnecessarily cut short through the absence of services.

This is exactly the reason Acquired Brain Injury Ireland came into being 21 years ago: to take individuals out of the nursing home system who have been placed there inappropriately, to provide them with specialised neuro-rehabilitation within the community, and to give them back their lives.

Currently, more than 60 per cent of the brain injury survivors living in our residential rehabilitation services have come from nursing home settings; 50 per cent those residents ultimately return to live autonomously within the community. We are already providing a life-changing service and an economically viable solution to prevent premature placement in long-term nursing home care.

With investment in organisations like ours, the recommendations in the Ombudsman’s Wasted Lives report could quickly and effectively become a reality.

For the past two decades, we have been working passionately to prevent unnecessary nursing home admissions and to advocate for the right to rehabilitation for all brain injury survivors. We are hopeful that the Ombudsman’s report will urge our Government and our policymakers to step up, address its recommendations, and invest in rehabilitation services that meet the needs of the individual, their families and our society. – Yours, etc,

BARBARA O’CONNELL,

Chief Executive,

Acquired Brain

Injury Ireland,

Dún Laoghaire,

Co Dublin.