A unique support project for parents and carers of children with brain injuries – the first of its kind in the UK – has been launched to help families in Middlesbrough, Redcar and East Cleveland.
The Family Support Project has been set up by local charity Matrix Neurological with funding from South Tees Clinical Commissioning Group’s Community Innovation Fund and support from staff at The James Cook University Hospital.
It aims to provide information to families about acquired brain injury, ensure parents are aware of their rights as carers and help make people aware of all the services available to them.
Whether it’s practical support around the home, benefits advice, education support or facilitating access to services, the family support project can provide a package of support tailored to the needs of each individual.
The project is led by Matrix Neurological founder Jan Rock whose son Callum suffered a severe traumatic brain injury following a climbing accident in 2010 when he was 16. Following specialist trauma care at James Cook and intensive support from his family Callum went on to make a remarkable recovery and is now studying physiotherapy at university.
Jan experienced first-hand the challenges a brain injury can bring to a family and now wants to make sure there are no gaps when it comes to support services both in and out of hospital.
“Bringing a brain injured child home from hospital is extremely stressful and has a significant impact on all of the family,” said Jan. “We want to share what we have learned and ensure local families are provided with effective support that makes a real difference.
“I was so focussed on getting Callum’s brain functioning again that when I did look for some support I fell into a signposting loop. I got nowhere because everyone was just signposting me to someone else.
“We want to provide a single point of contact so we can coordinate all their support needs and bring existing pubic services to them. It’s about problem solving and doing practical things to take the pressure off the family unit so they can focus on their immediate priorities – caring for their brain-injured child.”
Figures show that between 2010 and 2015 around 50 children were admitted to hospital for a serious brain injury.
Jan said: “This means at least 50 families in the Tees Valley were affected by child brain injury and were most likely in need of help and support.
“The family support project enables Matrix Neurological to work with the hospital to reach out to families while they are still on the ward so they can build up a relationship before they are discharged.
“The advantage of this is that they can help to address some of the issues the family are facing prior to discharge to hopefully support a smooth transition from hospital to home.
Cathy Brammer, clinical matron for children and young people added: “We want the support to start right at the beginning and not after discharge. These families face a long period of rehabilitation and they need to be focussing on the young person and not worrying about everything else.”
To find out more visit www.matrixneurological.org.uk