Services designed to help family and friends
The Community Head Injury Service works closely with family and friends, both in addressing the needs of people with brain injury and in providing specialist education and counselling for carers, couples and families. The CHIS family services are cited as an ‘evaluated example of good practice’ for Quality Requirement 10 on ‘Supporting Carers and Families’ of the National Service Framework for Long-
The aims of the services to family and friends are to:
In describing our services for family and friends, we often use the term ‘family’ or ‘relative’ for convenience – these terms are used broadly to include close friends, as well as relatives.
Working with families and friends
We welcome the involvement of the family in the assessment and rehabilitation process with a close relative/friend invited routinely to initial assessment and feedback/planning appointments.
On initial assessment we determine the family context and explore the perceptions, priorities and expectations of accompanying family or friends. In establishing the personal, family, social and clinical history we address most questions to the person with brain injury. However we encourage the relative or close friend to assist the person in recalling details (e.g. early after the brain injury), in explaining information and also in contributing their own observations. In identifying current difficulties on a Head Injury Problem Schedule, we usually interview the person and relative (or close friend) separately. This allows relatives and friends to speak freely about their observations and concerns without risk of upsetting the person or of prompting confrontation over any evident differences of opinion.
In order to identify the needs of family members, we routinely administer a brief Relatives’ Screening Questionnaire with relatives and friends. This provides an early impression of the impact of the brain injury on the family and what support the family may have received. Services available to support the family are also outlined. If there is concern about the family, we will offer support to individual family members and/or relationship/family counselling, as well as a routine invitation to our relatives’ educational programme.
Relative or close friends are invited routinely to feedback sessions to discuss the results of assessment and rehabilitation plans/goals to develop a shared understanding of the major issues, priorities and interventions. During rehabilitation ongoing liaison with the family is undertaken by a designated rehabilitation key-
Educational Programmes for Family and friends.
We provide an annual educational programme on the nature and effects of brain injury specifically for family and friends. This is currently run in a monthly Wednesday evening format. This covers the following topics: