Our Clients

Social Engagement

Sophie, 19, was living at home with her parents and working full-time as a retail assistant when she was struck by a car at high speed as she crossed a road. Three years on from her accident Sophie was not able to return to employment and spent most of her time at home with either her parents or a carer. Sophie had difficulty allowing other people to take a turn in conversation, often made comments that were not appropriate to the situation and became angry and frustrated when people did not understand her slurred speech. As a result, she had little or no contact with her original friendship group and had become socially very isolated.

Sophie was referred to Life Supports for help to re-establish regular social activity in her life. The Life Supports team member worked closely with Sophie and her family around increasing her awareness of the aspects of her social behaviour that were unconducive to her highly valued goal of making friends and going out, and supported Sophie and people close to her in learning ways to improve these behaviours in social situations. Sophie also worked with the Life Supports team member to develop strategies to help get her message across more clearly when speaking in noisy environments. Life Supports helped Sophie research relevant social groups and activities in her area and supported her in attending her preferred options to identify which ones she enjoyed. Sophie was supported in learning ways to monitor her feelings of frustration and anger and what action to take when these started to escalate in order to avoid angry outbursts.

Sophie now has an active role in a peer support program for young people with acquired brain injuries, which has given her a sense of being an important contributor to the community. She attends the movies and a café on a fortnightly basis with her cousin and, on occasion, a friend that she has made through the peer support group. She also attends a social group for people with acquired brain injury on a regular basis. At present, Sophie is identifying a short craft course to attend at her local community house.

Community Integration

John, 47, was living in a rural area at the time of his accident. After an extensive period of inpatient rehabilitation, John decided to continue living in Melbourne where he was close to the medical support he required. John was referred to Life Supports for help to overcome anxiety around his significantly changed thinking abilities and physical skills, which prevented him from leaving his flat and utilising community facilities. As he had no family support in Melbourne, John felt dependent on attendant care support for tasks such as shopping and going to the post office. The Life Supports team helped John develop an improved understanding of his anxiety and worked with him to identify ways to help manage it in daily life situations. Working through a hierarchy of community-based situations and activities he had previously avoided, and which were important to John, he was supported in gaining confidence and skills in tasks such as utilising local public transport, learning the route to his local library, doing his shopping and learning to use email. This involved the development of strategies to help John remember different types of important information and to help compensate for his slowed speed of thinking.

To date, John no longer requires support from attendant carers and is enjoying an improved sense of independence in his day to day life. He leaves his flat most days and utilises his newly acquired email skills to stay in touch with different family members in the country on a weekly basis.

Return to Study

Hugh, 26, was in his third year of studying medicine at university when he was involved in a serious car accident. He was in coma for 6 days and had sustained a severe brain injury. After an initial extended period of hospital-based rehabilitation, Hugh was referred to Life Supports for help to identify whether returning to study was a realistic option. The Life Supports team supported Hugh in developing new study skills and note-taking strategies in line with his changed memory abilities. He was supported in learning to pace himself and carefully plan the time of day at which he studied in order to manage attention difficulties and ongoing fatigue. Hugh was provided with support to access assistive technology to help hear lecturers more clearly due to a mild hearing impairment acquired as a result of the accident. Hugh also received counselling through Life Supports to help him adjust to his changed abilities and life circumstances and to develop hopeful yet realistic expectations of the future. To date, Hugh continues to study medicine at university on a part-time basis.

Return to Work

Michael, 62, was working full time as a utilities engineer at a TAFE campus when he had surgery to remove a brain tumour and a subsequent brain haemorrhage. After an initial period of inpatient rehabilitation, Michael was referred to Life Supports for assistance to return to work. The Life Supports rehabilitation team member worked closely with Michael and his employer to develop a return to work plan. This involved an initial period in which his workplace computer system was accessed from home and strategies were developed to assist Michael with his memory, attention and organisation difficulties based around real work tasks. Michael was also supported to learn ways to manage his fatigue. In close liaison with his employer, Life Supports supported Michael in returning to work in a carefully graded manner, reviewing and upgrading the length of time spent at work and the types of tasks performed over time. Michael now works 4 full days per week and has resumed all of his former duties.

Parenting Support

Lisa, 42, was a stay at home Mum with three young children at the time of her car accident. Following her brain injury, Lisa struggled to organise and remember what needed to be done throughout each day and to manage her children's increasingly challenging behaviour. As a result she became depressed and anxious about her ability to perform her role as parent and felt overwhelmed most of the time. The Life Supports team provided practical support in the context of Lisa's home to enable her to plan and prioritise what needed to be done each day, and to problem-solve when things didn't go to plan. She was helped to identify ways of using technology for reminders about when to leave home to drop off and collect her children from kindergarten on time, as well as other memory strategies such as calendars and timetables.

The Life Supports family therapist supported Lisa's children in adapting to having a Mum who seemed different following her brain injury, and with Lisa and her husband around ways of managing their children's changed behaviour following the injury. Counselling support was also provided to Lisa and her husband as a couple around adjusting to ways in which their relationship had changed as a result of Lisa's injury. This also involved helping Lisa and her husband identify ways in which their roles within the family had changed since the accident and support to develop a parenting team approach in line with Lisa's changed abilities.

To date, Lisa feels she is able to confidently contribute to the family in her role as parent once again. The family as a whole are aware of what they need to do to keep this going and systems are in place to keep family life running as smoothly as possible. Although the systems that are in place work most of the time, when things start to feel chaotic Lisa and her family know which strategies to employ to help get things back on track.

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