Following a car accident in December 2013, I was taken to a hospital for people suffering from a traumatic brain injury. I had also sustained injuries to my spine.
Upon my discharge from hospital I was very confused and was unaware of what services I was entitled to under the NHS and Social Services. I was sent to rehab and hated it. Suffice it to say, the services provided were stretched, very limited and did not provide the care that I so desperately needed to recover. I lacked motivation, was severely depressed, spent my days languishing in bed in pain or on the sofa. Basically, believed that I had lost the person I once was.
Through my solicitor I was assigned a case manager; however, after a couple of months our relationship had broken down. Again, facilitated by my solicitor, I received information about a number of other case managers, who I was told would put together a team and coordinate my care. It was up to me to choose who I wanted to case manage my care. After reading a number of managers profiles, I chose Ben Holden. Upon our first meeting, I instinctively knew that Ben was the one. Prior to my accident I had worked as an Advanced Social Work Practitioner in Health and Social Care. It was a coincidence that I had also previously worked as a care manager and knew “all about the business,” however, I was wrong! Ben’s area of specialism was different to mine in mental health. I was not an easy client, was very challenging and did not accept advice easily. I did not realise or would not accept that my traumatic brain injury had left me with a number of very complex physical, social and psychological “needs.” Of course, I wanted a needs led assessment and a “personalised individual care plan.” Supported by years of working as a neuro-occupational therapist, Ben with his knowledge, skills and experience, knew how to manage my very difficult behaviour and the impact this would have upon me, my family and future, For example, aggressiveness, anxiety, disinhibition, problems with my memory, finding words, confusion, fatigue, pain, and mood swings. Life certainly felt like a roller coaster.
My life began to significantly change. Ben treated me with the upmost dignity and respect. He coordinated a team of professionals experienced in working with neurological disorders, especially with people who had experienced an accidental severe traumatic brain injury or through illness. I felt confident that Ben would and did manage to select professionals who he somehow knew would manage my challenging eccentric behaviour and complex needs. However, I was not ready to engage with or accept the changes to the “new me.”
I had previously worked in a “multi disciplinary team” setting: worked with psychologists; occupational therapists, physio therapists, psychiatrists, but had never been on the receiving end or intensively worked with professionals specialised in neurological disorders. The journey has certainly been long and thanks to Ben and his team have learnt how to manage my needs. I no longer believe that I “can run before learning to walk.”
By no means have I made a complete recovery or might not. However, I now understand and accept that as a consequence of my accident there will always be new challenges. With Ben managing my care and the team of professionals he identified, I feel confident that I will be able to manage these challenges, when and as they arise.
A big thank you to Ben, his team and the Multidisciplinary Team.
Lady in her fifties from London with traumatic brain injury, spinal injuries following a road traffic collision.