Reflecting on the year since the PAUL for Brain Recovery centre doors were open for the first time, we would like to share with you our journey so far. Developing a service from scratch is particularly challenging as there is no rule book or guidance to follow except the past experiences and knowledge of the team. The service is delivered by Paul Spence, who suffered a traumatic brain injury in 2012; Ali Ward, a Brain Injury Case Manager who has had a family member suffer a brain injury and Leigh North who deals with the general operations of running the charity.
The Service is a non-clinical support and guidance service, which can be accessed by anyone of any age who has been affected by an acquired brain injury. The service is based around peer-mentoring, goal setting, progress monitoring as well as funding professionals to deliver necessary therapy and referrals to other organisations/support services according to need.
Upon accessing the PAUL for Brain Recover Centre, you can expect a warm, friendly and relaxed environment. A chat with the individual and/or their family members will help us to establish what help and support may be needed. An initial assessment form is filled out to record personal information and obtain details of how, where, when and what condition/injury was sustained. We also record any cognitive, behavioural, emotional or physical difficulties, as well as any other challenges. The form also allows the individual to tell us what they want/need, their specific goals for the future and how we can help them.
Initially peer support was the main focus of service delivery, and is still a large part of what makes the centre so popular. We offer invaluable peer support from Paul, and others who are on the recovery journey, which sends the clear message that ‘you are not alone, there are others that understand what you are going through’. This kind of support is priceless and we find that it really helps an individual gain insight into their injury. Expressing concerns, fears and difficulties enables others who have experienced the same, to offer advice on coping strategies, true understanding and genuine support.
Providing individuals and their family with a safe environment where they are understood and free to share their feelings, is and will always be a very important aspect to the service, however it became apparent quite quickly that many people also need help in other areas. This includes goal setting, working through problems, taking up new hobbies, advice on nutrition and fitness, progress monitoring, benefits and financial advice, family support and referrals when necessary to our accredited associates e.g Mind, Let’s Talk, Carer’s Association.
After the initial meeting an individual can access the following dependent upon their needs or wishes:
– One to one sessions with Paul and Ali
– Social time – twice weekly for 2 hours per session. This gives our brain injured friends a chance to meet others, socialise and share their experiences of brain injury.
– Monthly outings – We have been to various places which have included, Brantingham, The Deep and Bridlington.
– The allotment project – located in the centre of Hull, our allotment is in the process of having a summer house built on it and full wheelchair access. We aim to grow fruit and veg on our plot as well as spend time in nature and the peaceful surroundings.
We are a person-centred service as we understand that every individual is different and therefore has unique needs, challenges and goals. We devise a recovery pathway for all our brain injured friends which helps them on their path to a bright future, providing support, guidance and positivity every step of the way. We review each pathway every 3 months to ensure we are meeting the needs of the individual and thus providing the best service possible. Our primary aim is to help and encourage everyone to reach their full potential, whatever that may be. We celebrate each and every achievement that is made, no matter how ‘small’ it is perceived to be, and encourage our brain injured friends to embrace challenges knowing they are not alone.
To conclude, we would like to acknowledge the role of kind hearted businesses and members of the public who are crucial in enabling us to provide our service. Money raised or donated goes directly to help our brain injured friends. For example, to provide physiotherapy sessions, anger management, mindfulness/relaxation, aqua physio, nutritionist, college fees and equipment for the centre (parallel bars, walking frame, physio bed).