If a friend or loved one has suffered a brain injury, they are likely to need a lot of practical and emotional support during the recovery process. Many people will never have been in the position of having to give this type of support before, so it can be useful to have an idea of what to expect and what kind of help you can give.
There are generally three stages to recovering from a brain injury – the immediate aftermath of the injury, when the patient leaves hospital and the longer-term period where they may still need some degree of support and care.
Supporting someone in the early stages after a brain injury
When someone is first recovering from a brain injury they are likely to be scared and confused, and they may have trouble processing what has happened to them. During this period providing emotional support is absolutely key, while on a practical level you may need to step in to help with any key responsibilities the person has, such as looking after their children or other dependents.
Supporting a brain injury patient as they leave hospital
Before a brain injury patient is discharged from hospital they will have to have an assessment to determine their health and social care needs. At least one close friend or family member should be present during this meeting and take responsibility for communicating the patient’s needs to the rest of their friends and family.
Many people with a brain injury struggle with their memory and concentration, so it is a good idea to take charge of recording any essential information and advice shared by medical staff and other care workers as the patient may not remember important details later.
It is likely a patient will need some degree of on-going care, meaning they may need to travel to an outpatient facility. The patient may not be capable of getting there themselves, so it may be necessary from someone to drive them or escort them there.
They may also need help with basic tasks such as shopping, cooking meals and caring from themselves. Depending on the level of these needs and your own circumstances, you may feel able to help with these needs or it may be necessary to arrange social care.
Providing on-going support from a person with a brain injury
Ultimately, many people with a brain injury will be able to get back to living more or less completely independently. However, many will also need some level of continuing support to ensure their welfare is maintained. Exactly what help they need will depend on their level of on-going issues and how much you can help is likely to depend on your own circumstances.
Funding support for brain injury patients
While much of the support people need when recovering from a brain injury can be accessed for free through the NHS, there are a number of things that will likely need to be paid for privately.
This can include medical care and rehabilitation services (if you are unhappy with those available through the NHS), as well as covering things such as making adaptations to the home, buying specialist equipment and funding on-going care workers. It may also be necessary to replace lost income if the patient has to take time off work or has to give up work entirely.
If the injury was due to an accident that wasn’t the patient’s fault, or was caused by malicious action from a third party, it may be possible to claim brain injury compensation. This can cover many of the costs associated with recovering from a brain injury, as well as providing compensation for pain and emotional suffering. There are many personal injury solicitors who specialise in brain injuries who will be able to advise you on whether you are likely to be able to make a successful claim.