•14 counties including Donegal without brain injury case management to access services

More than 13,000 people acquire brain injuries in Ireland annually but according to national charity Acquired Brain Injury Ireland, too many families face a lone, uphill battle to access neuro-rehabilitation services which could be alleviated by greater government investment in local brain injury case management services in counties including Donegal.

Thousands of lives are devastated in Ireland every year by brain injuries acquired through falls, road collisions, attempted suicides and strokes resulting in a silent epidemic leaving families struggling to cope in every corner of the country.

In its pre-budget submission, Acquired Brain Injury Ireland stressed the gaping need for investment in case management services in counties including Donegal, not only to ensure brain injury survivors have access to appropriate services but also to reduce unnecessary hospital admissions and delayed discharges.

Donnchadh Whelan, National Services Manager with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland said: “We have had brain injury case managers in the East of the country since 2006 and their effectiveness with regard to value for money is proven. Now we are calling for that case management approach to be replicated across each HSE CHO area so we can provide basic coverage for families of brain injury survivors nationwide. Currently, there are little or no services covering Clare, Cork, Donegal, Galway, Kerry, Kildare, Leitrim, Limerick, Mayo, Roscommon, Sligo, Waterford, Wexford, Wicklow. While services that exist for Dublin are severely under-resourced and under pressure.”

An acquired brain injury case manager acts as a single point of contact for families and provides a clear pathway to support an individual’s transition from acute settings through post-acute and into community rehabilitation services. Research in the UK has shown that case management for complex cases of brain injury has enhanced quality of life for individuals. Additionally, earlier research focused on the northeast of Ireland (Meath, Cavan, Monaghan, Louth) showed acquired brain injury case management services drove net savings for our health service of €3.5m due to:

•reduced level of support required for individuals

•reduced admission to nursing homes and hospitals

•reduced discharge delays from nursing homes and hospitals

According to the national not-for-profit which delivers community and residential services to 1,100 brain injury survivors nationwide, brain injury specific case management is hugely cost effective and reduces the burden of care by avoiding expensive hospital admissions.

Kathleen Brennan, Case Manager with Acquired Brain Injury Ireland said: “A brain injury is a sudden onset of trauma for a family and the individual and they feel overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn. My role as case manager is exactly designed for these times of distress. I am someone families can reach out to, a point of contact that listens to their need and identifies resources applicable and available to their situation. In the early days, there is often a high level of contact. There are times when younger people are inappropriately placed in nursing homes and being able to support these younger people to return home or access services in the community is very important. It’s extremely rewarding, working with people in this way.”

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland has called for investment of €542,000 per annum to cover eight full-time equivalent case manager roles in areas of critical need including: Sligo, Donegal, Leitrim, West Cavan (CHO 1), Galway, Roscommon, Mayo (CHO 2), Clare, Limerick, North Tipperary, East Limerick (CHO 3), Kerry, North Cork, North Lee, South Lee, West Cork (CHO 4), South Tipperary, Carlow/Kilkenny, Waterford, Wexford (CHO 5), Wicklow, Dun Laoghaire, Dublin South East (CHO 6), Kildare, West Wicklow, Dublin West, Dublin South City, Dublin South West (CHO 7), Dublin North, North Central, Dublin North West (CHO 9).

Acquired Brain Injury Ireland is Ireland’s leading provider of community rehabilitation for those of working age (18-65 years) living with and recovering from an acquired brain injury.

For more information or to support Acquired Brain Injury Ireland visit www.abiireland.ie

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