Brain Injury Charity Responds To Covid-19 Crisis By Creating Online Portal For Service Users

Brain Injury Matters has maintained its services to those affected by Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) despite the challenges of the current Covid-19 crisis.

Shifting rapidly to a range of technological solutions Brain Injury Matters has adapted how it supports children, young people, adults and families affected by ABI.

From regular phone calls through to a web portal the charity has managed to preserve its vital lifeline to users.

CEO, Joe McVey, explained that the shift to remote services was essential given the concerns of those that they supported.

“In the beginning many of our services users found the impact of COVID-19 and lockdown very unsettling, worrying and concerning for their families and themselves,” he said. “There were many questions and queries about how or if BIM will be able to continue to provide services.”

Knowing that they needed to respond a range of options were developed.

“Brain Injury Matters took the decision promptly to move to remote working but ensuring that we maintained the support and engagement of all services users,” Joe explained. “All services moved to telephone and online communication by way of Zoom, Skype, Facebook, WhatsApp and the Family First Portal.

“All programmes are now delivered through these mediums, with staff having become familiar overnight with this way of working. It was also imperative that staff were able to communicate directly with one another and their line managers to ensure support during this time.

“Support was vital to our clients during this time of uncertainty, to help survivors of acquired brain injury to reduce feelings of isolation, anxiety and stress brought on by their brain injury and made worse by the coronavirus.”

Adult service users are now supported by the ‘Positivity Hub’ online (funded by the CFNI) to engage with those who previously attended the Belfast Brain Injury Centre.

Brain Injury Matters children and youth services also continue to provide services.

“While we are unable to visit, we continue to provide support by telephone, online and the Family First Portal,” said Bridget Smyth, head of children and youth services, adding: “The portal has been updated and developed to allow us to communicate better with families so that staff can continue to intervene and support families.

“Our Family First Portal is an Online Tool is funded by the National Lottery Community Fund and developed in partnership with the psychology services of BHSCT that allows us to share documents, have conversations, and organise virtual sessions through use of technology such as Zoom & Skype.

“Families are able to communicate with other families through the Portal, and there is now a lovely community of families with children affected by ABI, sharing their experiences of ABI and how they are adapting to life in lockdown. We are also in the process of creating videos to demonstrate skills, strategies and activities that parents can do with their children during this uncertain time.

“While we are developing technology to stay connected, we in the Children and Youth Service do not underestimate the importance of connection through more traditional means such as phone calls, and have been supporting parents and families in this way since lockdown.”

To find out more about Brain Injury Matters please visit