Martin Usher outlines the help which may be available when a child needs ongoing care and rehabilitation.
The experience of having a child suffer a traumatic or acquired brain injury or another disabling injury following an accident is a daunting time for parents and the litigation process can be overwhelming.
The support that is provided by Major Trauma Centres at the acute stage is excellent but the concern for parents arises when the child is being discharged home. Amongst the whirlwind of thoughts and questions that parents ask themselves, the two fundamental questions to be answered are: will my child be OK and; what does the future hold for my child?
The litigation process through bringing a personal injury claim is key to both the injured child and their parents. The support that is required can be endless and whilst the resources under the NHS can be limited, the litigation process is there to unlock funds at the outset of the injury suffered which helps to ensure that a smooth pathway is created for the child, from their discharge home to their treatment pathway to ensuring that their education is secured and protected.
The litigation process has two pathways, one being the legal pathway (ensuring that compensation is obtained for the child and their families in the future) and of more immediate importance, the rehabilitation pathway, which looks at the immediate and ongoing treatment and educational needs of the child and their families.
The rehabilitation pathway derives from The Rehabilitation Code 2015, where essentially 4 key issues are considered at the immediate outset following a traumatic accident:
Physical Needs – Ensuring that further therapies are available under private provision if unavailable under the NHS, to improve the outcomes and quality of life of the child including, Neuro-Rehabilitation; Speech and Language Therapy; Occupational Therapy, Physiotherapy and more.
Social Needs – Ensuring that the pre-accident home is suitable for the child and their families when being discharged home. This can include potential adaptations made if required, renting a suitable home for a certain period of time if required, for example, whilst a child is an inpatient at hospital and the families need to be close by, and sometimes support with potentially needing to move home completely.
Psychological Needs – Ensuring the child has access to support, in the event that the child suffers psychologically following the accident, this can be in the form of experiencing flashbacks or nightmares and even adjustment disorders following the change in their life. This provision also enables access for family members to seek psychological support also and sometimes support being provided to schools and their peers to ensure that the educational piece is there smoothing the injured child’s return to school.
Educational Support – This is fundamental and absolutely key to a child within the litigation process. Support from an Educational Psychologist should be sought and access to an Education Lawyer to support the child with applying for an Education, Health and Care Plan. This will assist with understanding the needs of the child and what is most suitable for them in terms of their future educational needs to ensure that should a mainstream school not be suitable for the child following their injury, that access to a Special Educational Needs School is available to them to support their future education and developmental needs. Support with accessing funding for an SEN school and travel is incredibly important hence why an EHCP is absolutely vital to look at when a child has suffered a traumatic / acquired brain injury or another disabling injury.
The rehabilitation process comes into play at the outset of the litigation process and should be there to support the child and their families both throughout the duration of the litigation process and once concluded to ensure that ongoing support is available for the child and their families through the various milestones that they will experience through their lifetime.
It is key to ensure that at the outset, a clear and bespoke Rehabilitation Programme is produced for each individual child which includes all of the above to ensure that a holistic approach both with respect to the child’s ongoing recovery and their future education and developmental needs are met.
The litigation process can also allow us to be creative in terms of ongoing support that we can obtain for a child having suffered a traumatic injury.
Once a rehabilitation programme is arranged, as rehabilitation outcomes and goals are met, the programme will be adapted to those improved outcomes and ensure that future ongoing needs are highlighted and support is received. It is key to be bespoke to each child, to ensure that their passion for certain subjects or interests are highlighted and catered for through various therapies that are available, including music therapy, art therapy and sport therapy etc.
It is extremely pleasing to see Barbara Keely MP very recently advocating for people with complex and long-term health conditions to be supported and receive long term rehabilitation to ensure that people are well cared for and this is exactly what the purpose of the litigation process is there for and we are very much in support of Barbara Keely MP’s views on this.
Whilst unfortunately there is not always a legal pathway available for children who may have suffered an acquired or traumatic brain injury or another disabling injury, the rehabilitation pathway is still absolutely vital. This can be achieved by accessing support through various charities, including The Child Brain Injury Trust and Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People. The Child Brain Injury Trust provides support for those children who have suffered either an acquired or traumatic brain injury with signposting and guidance that is provided to both the child and their families to ensure they have access to support.
The Queen Elizabeth’s Foundation for Disabled People places a spotlight on the intricate and specific care patients need after suffering severe injuries, the centre offers speech and language therapists, clinical psychologists, physiotherapists and occupational therapists, as well as specialist nurses and care staff.
At Lime Solicitors, we pride ourselves with supporting children who are victims of a disabling injury in circumstances where that injury has been sustained as a result of someone else’s fault and have a personable approach to supporting the injured child and their families. For those who may not have access to the litigation process, it is extremely important to ensure that all children that have suffered a disabling injury have access to support to ensure that their future pathway, including their health, education and development is supported and their quality of life is improved as best as possible. To achieve this goal we must provide as much support as possible to those charities who continue to do fantastic work to support children who have suffered a disabling injury.