Community Liaison Program
What is it?
BrainLink currently runs the 'BrainLink Community Liaison' program across 3 hospitals. It started out as a pilot project funded through philanthropic grants. The BrainLink ABD (Acquired Brain Disorder) Community Liaison Program was developed to trial the effectiveness of a BrainLink ABD Community Liaison Officer (CLO) in a hospital setting; providing a direct link between acute care in hospital and life in the community after discharge.
This service is in the hospital setting which has multiple benefits for those recently admitted and treated for ABD and for their families or carers. Such an event or situation leading to an ABD rarely involves an individual in isolation, therefore it is crucial to take account of the needs of the whole family unit or significant others surrounding the individual. The very nature and shock of dealing with an unexpected event of an ABD presents unknown and unfamiliar conditions that must be understood and dealt with by a patient, family or carer. Families have informed BrainLink that the earliest possible support has helped them to adapt and come to terms with an ABD incident and for many it has achieved better long-term outcomes for both the patient and family
How does it work?
The CLO would meet with the patient and their family, providing face-to-face contact with those diagnosed with ABD and their families; offering support, assistance, and an introduction to BrainLink, often with multiple meetings while in hospital. Patients and families then advised a preference for follow-up, including personal contact by the CLO six weeks after discharge, or the opportunity to make contact only when needed.
If referred to BrainLink, patients received regular contact by mail, telephone or email with information about services available to them. If required, home visits were conducted. It was common for patients to realise that, once in the community, they required assistance and support that had not been anticipated while in hospital. By establishing a relationship with patients in hospital, the CLO served as an approachable point of contact after discharge and filled a service gap in the acute care sector, where resources for supportive care after discharge are limited.
For those wishing to access further services, the CLO was able to provide family support, information on resources and assistance, information packs, referrals to other community organisations for specialised care, guidance on to how to seek financial assistance, an information hotline to call in emergencies. It has been recognised by all stakeholders that the longer term needs of people with acquired brain disorders should be a shared responsibility of specialist and local health and community services, with strong connections to other social services such as housing, employment, education, legal, etc.
Families reported a need for information, practical support, continued education and easy access to health and community options to combat isolation, emotional distress, stress and carer burden and overload. Ongoing support is required in the community in order to maximise independence and the quality of life for the many years to come.