Team Paul Ward L-R: Kim Kelly, Lauren Killen, Maria Traynor, Louise Freehill, Mary-Jo Teague
An acquired brain injury, or ABI, is something that occurs after birth. It may have many causes, from an accident, illness such as meningitis, a stroke or brain tumour and can have long-lasting negative impacts on the cognitive, emotional and social skills of a child or young person affected by an injury.
Gerard Anderson, recently appointed as Head of Brain Injury Services for the UK wide charity explains that brain injury affects everyone differently. Some people may have short-term difficulties where they require short term involvement or support, however there are many children and young people across Northern Ireland who need support for years after their injury or illness, or for their whole life.
The Child Brain Injury Trust, the longest established children’s brain injury charity in Northern Ireland, set up in 1991, currently supports around 220 families across Northern Ireland affected by childhood acquired brain injury.
As the leading voluntary sector organisation providing non-medical services to families and professionals affected by childhood acquired brain injury, the support from regional Brain Injury Coordinators ensures that families and professionals across health, social services and community services are able to understand and navigate the complexities and difficulties that come with living with a childhood acquired brain injury.
By working with Paul Ward in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, the Child Brain Injury Trust can support families through their transition from hospital into community services and through the transition stages into adult services, ensuring those professionals around a family, at each stage, know how to support a child or young person the best way possible.
L-R: Natalie Robinson (CBIT), Louise Freehill (RBHSC), Lynette Tumelty (RBHSC), Lauren Killen (RBHSC), Gerard Anderson (CBIT)
To acknowledge the important role that the Child Brain Injury Trust plays in this journey from hospital to community and the importance of support post injury, the staff from Paul ward recently ran the Belfast Marathon to raise funds for the Child Brain Injury Trust to help ensure that this vital role, carried out by Natalie Robinson in Paul Ward, continues, and the vital support to families is maintained, a role that without the support from Paul Ward, couldn’t happen at this early stage.
Each week, Natalie attends Paul Ward, meeting families at the start of their journey and provides essential emotional and social support. Natalie also works with the different teams across the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children ensuring that the support provided is joined up and child focused and provides that essential service to families that for many, is an essential support they are unable to receive anywhere else.
There is a significant need for social and emotional support for families, especially at the early stages when families don’t know where to turn to, and as a service commissioned by the Health & Social Care Board, we are able to provide that support when families need us most.
Without early intervention and rehabilitation, children with acquired brain injury are at an increased risk of escalated problems and difficulties in adulthood, and by working with the staff in Paul Ward, the Child Brain Injury Trust is able to reduce those incidences.
If you would like to find out more about the Child Brain Injury Trust, or access support, please telephone the Northern Ireland office on: 02890 817145, email firstname.lastname@example.org or check out www.childbraininjurytrust.org.uk