Supporting family and professional relationships after acquired brain injury
In September 2019, a sold – out conference at Rhodes House, Oxford brought together family members of brain injury survivors and recognised experts in the field to share their deeply emotional stories, learning and wisdom, in understanding family needs after this most catastrophic of injuries.
The initial vision of Dr Audrey Daisley, developed in collaboration with Tracy Norris-Evans and the team at Royds Withy King, resulted in a conference programme covering clinical practice, applied academic research and the medico-legal experience.
With the latest clinical and evidence based research, combined with the personal accounts of family members, this conference provided a unique perspective on how professionals can work more harmoniously with families to achieve improved outcomes. Dr Daisley canvassed the audience for greater support for families to help them build resilience and strategies for the tough times they would inevitably face- a call to action with authenticity since the Oxford Centre of Enablement (where she is clinical lead)aims to offer a “gold standard” service for families including joint goal setting, reflective practice groups for front line staff and involvement in research.
Dr Giles Yeates spoke about using couples therapy to rehabilitate love after brain injury whilst Dr Mark Holloway provided top tips for fostering good relationships with families of brain injury survivors. Keynote international speaker, Professor Jeff Kreutzer, delivered a forensic review of the literature on divorce and relationships concluding that well-informed people do better and advocating a focus on education and stress management.
But it was the powerful personal stories of family members which stood out and are most likely to be the catalyst for change; especially the account of the youngest speaker, nine-year-old Cerys Hughes, who bravely spoke about the adverse impact of her father’s catastrophic brain injury on her young life.
Variously described as a “stand-out” conference and “the best brain injury conference” ever it will be a hard act to follow but follow it we will in our quest to be activists for change in supporting families. We were working hard to scope out the Ahead Together 2021 programme when the pandemic hit: in the hope that this will be a short set back we plan to announce the second Ahead Together Conference shortly, again focussing on the family experience.