At Burnetts Solicitors we acknowledge that the health, social and economic impact of coronavirus, or COVID-19, cannot be understated. Like many other groups with an underlying long term health conditions there may be additional risks from COVID-19 for people with an Acquired or Traumatic Brain Injury.
But how many people have an underlying long term health condition? In NHS England’s latest report on the health of the nation it acknowledged that 43% of adults – that’s nearly 20 million people – are living with at least one long-term health condition. Although not all of those would be directly in danger from Covid-19, there is therefore a major section of our society who will be.
An Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) is any injury to the brain which has occurred following birth. It includes Traumatic Brain Injuries (TBIs), such as those caused by trauma for example from a road traffic accident, fall or assault, and non-Traumatic Brain Injuries related to other medical conditions including encephalitis, meningitis, stroke, substance abuse, brain tumour and oxygen deprivation resulting from a cardiac arrest or other causes. Much of the published data relates to Traumatic Brain injury which means that the figures quoted in the diagram below estimates the numbers of people with an Acquired Brain Injury. However even just based on the number of Traumatic Brain Injuries there are an estimated 1.3 million people living in the UK with a Traumatic Brain Injury related disabilities and therefore an underlying long-term health condition.
At Burnetts we know from our experience of supporting people following brain injury that routine can be very important to some people living with the long-term effects of brain injury, with social isolation often exacerbating the behavioural, emotional and psychological effects. This is one of the many reasons that members of our team volunteer their time to support local Headway groups including Headway Wearside and Headway South Cumbria.
Unfortunately Headway groups and branches have had to suspend many of their face-to-face services in accordance with the government’s advice. However many Headway Groups and Branches are doing what they can to find alternative ways to support those who rely on their help.
For example the Headway group I am chair of Headway Wearside has had to stop all face to face activities however we are providing a telephone support with a ring around service to members to ensure that we keep in touch and support where we can. We are also providing care packages and activity packs so that our members can be supported as far as possible whilst in self-isolation.
If you are currently being supported by a local Headway group or branch, you should be able to contact them via the usual telephone or email addresses, although please be aware that not all phone lines will be manned as premises and offices are required to close.
What precautions can be taken?
We at Burnetts urge everyone to strictly follow the government’s guidance, including:
- Reduce social interactions as much as possible, following the advice given on the gov.uk website. This includes guidance on living with a vulnerable person, advice for personal assistants and formal carers, and advice for family members and other informal carers
- Regular and thorough hand washing with soap and water for at least 20 seconds
- Coughing and sneezing into tissues – and then immediately disposing of them in the bin
- Not to touch your face with unwashed hands
There are however no specific precautions that will protect someone with an Acquired Brain Injury from getting infected other than the general precautions that are detailed above. It is therefore important that anyone with a brain injury and their families and carers closely follow this advice as they are at greater risk of developing more serious symptoms should they become infected.
There are some very useful COVID 19 resources available on the Headway UK website for those affected which can be accessed using this link: https://www.headway.org.uk/
Brain Awareness Week
This week between the 16th and 22nd
March is Brain Awareness Week a global campaign to raise awareness and support for brain science. Every March, many organisations both in the UK and worldwide host events and activities in their communities that share the wonders of the brain and the impact brain science has on our everyday lives.
This is in fact Brain Awareness Week’s 25th anniversary campaign and was founded by the Dana Alliance for Brain Initiatives (DABI) and the European Dana Alliance for the Brain (EDAB), and is coordinated by the Dana Foundation.
Unfortunately like many other events following the COVID 19 outbreak the vast majority of us are now self-isolating and unable to take part in many of the face to face events which have been organised.
Headway Look Ahead in the North
The Headway Look Ahead in the North which was due to take place between the 20tyh to 22nd March has unfortunately also cancelled this year due to the COVID 19 outbreak. This is a fantastic event which brings all the Headway Groups and Branches across the North East and Cumbria together for an activity weekend at the Calvert Trust Kielder.
The event which was due to have its 10th
anniversary this year has brought many brain injury survivors, carers and family members together and they have formed ongoing friendships which has helped to break down the isolation and low mood which can often be caused following an acquired brain injury.
Thankfully we along with a group of other people involved with the Headway Groups and Branches locally are organising a virtual Look Ahead in the North event on Facebook so that those that would normally attend the Look ahead in the North can still remain in contact. This will include a quiz and LAN’s Got Talent which is a talent show which has been run at previous Look Ahead in the North weekends. The use of social media and new technology is so important at a time like this to keep people in contact during this period of self-isolation.
How Burnetts Can help
Due to our expertise within the MNSI team at Burnetts we are accredited by both Headway UK and the UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum. We are proud to be the only legal firm with offices across Cumbria to be accredited by both Headway and UK Acquired Brain Injury Forum.
If you would like to speak to someone within our MNSI team to discuss any of the issues raised in this blog then please contact our offices on 01228 552222 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org. Please note that both telephone and video appointments can be arranged during this period of self-isolation.