Former bank worker Clare shares her story of life after brain injury

Former bank worker Clare shares her story of life after brain injury zoom

A self-proclaimed social butterfly, English graduate Clare worked in the banking industry, progressing from cashier to area director, she loved quizzes, languages, music and was a West Ham FC supporter.

Her life changed forever in 2016, at the age of 33, when a fall down some steps left her with severe functional and cognitive impairment and a traumatic brain injury. Clare’s injuries resulted in her developing Kluver-Bucy syndrome – a rare behavioural impairment.

To mark Action for Brain Injury Week (May 20-26) Clare and some of her fellow residents at 1 Sewardstone Close (1SC), a specialist care home in Chingford, opened up about their experiences of life after brain injury.

Clare explained: “Before my accident, I was progressing well in my career and had an active social life, I was always the life and soul of the party! And then everything changed, and I wasn’t the same person anymore.”

Following a period in London’s Royal Hospital for Neuro-Disability, Clare lived in two other ABI units which were unable to meet her complex care and behavioural needs and was in and out of hospital having treatment.

Enable Care’s specialist team at 1 Sewardstone Close assessed Clare and agreed they could meet her complex needs, she moved into the home in October 2021.

The care home is a Headway Approved Provider awarded ‘Outstanding’ status in all six areas of its accreditation, recognising its commitment to a holistic person-centred approach to care and rehabilitation.

“Since I came to live at 1SC, I feel like my life has started again,” continued Clare. “I’ve proved to myself that I can still be the life and soul of the party! I’ve gained more independence and can make choices about how I spend my time, something that is very important to me.

“The therapists have worked with me to build my strength so that I can move around the home in my wheelchair, without relying on others.

“The team encourage me to have regular days out with my sisters, who live locally, we go shopping together and I enjoy having my nails done. I’m also an auntie to my young nephew and adore spending time with him.

“Though I also call a lot of people here my family, everyone is really friendly, and I’ve made some great friendships.”

The 29-bed care home, run by Enable Care, is fully equipped to provide nursing care and rehabilitation services for people living with an acquired brain injury and other neurological conditions, with a focus on increasing independence.

Marie Goodwin, home manager at 1SC, has seen Clare “flourish” over the past three years.

She commented: “Improving Clare’s physical strength has helped her to take a more active role in maintaining her own personal care and appearance – both of which are very important to her ongoing wellbeing.

“The team support Clare with areas of her life which can cause frustration and challenges and have developed positive behaviours and self-awareness, including a stop and think strategy to help with impulsivity.

“Clare has nurtured her sociable nature and developed several meaningful relationships with other residents and team members.”

On May 24, the team at 1 Sewardstone Close opened the doors of their acquired brain injury (ABI) unit to the local community and professionals.

Visitors had the opportunity to chat to Clare and some of the other residents, have a guided tour around key parts of the home, and learn from members of the home’s multidiscipline team about the specialist care provided – including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, psychology, and speech and language.

Home manager Marie is a member of an all-party parliamentary group (APPG) for acquired brain injury and last month attended a meeting at the House of Commons with a selection of MPs, Peers, brain injury survivors and other professionals.

She added: “An objective of the APPG is to raise awareness of ABI and to seek improvements in support and services. There is a national shortage of brain injury facilities, by opening up our doors we are shining a light on the impact our services have on people living with brain injury.

“Brain injury following an illness or accident has a profound impact on the person’s life plans, their goals and aims, and even their identity.

“The focus of this year’s ABI Week is the life re-written and some of our residents chose to open up about their ‘Sliding Doors’ moment, when their lives changed forever, to raise awareness of the fact that brain injury can happen to anyone at any time.”