Care should be focused on needs, not on diagnosis, as diagnostic-focused care perpetuates gaps and silos
In this final event, Dr John Higenbottam, Faculty Emeritus, Douglas College, Clinical Professor, Department of Psychiatry, UBC, and Editor in Chief, Canadian Journal of Community Mental Health, began by presenting an outline of research and reports on brain injury published over the last thirty years. Most studies demonstrated major problems and planning issues for brain injury services in BC. Studies also highlighted how the needs of survivors and their families have remained consistent and for the most part, unresolved. He concluded by suggesting that, given the poor integration of care across services, the focus be on client needs rather than a diagnosis.
Dr Elizabeth Plant, a mental health and substance use physician, spoke about how survivors of brain injury following nonfatal overdose are falling through the cracks at an alarming rate. She also pointed out how delayed neurological consequences after an overdose results in a greater potential of missed diagnosis and treatment. The need for appropriate housing and support for individuals surviving a nonfatal overdose and living with a hypoxic/anoxic brain injury is high. Communities across the country are experiencing an increase in overdose survivors.
Patty Flaherty of Connect Communities spoke about Connect’s community-based model, Life Redesign, and Scott Froom from Island Health spoke about mental health and/or substance use case management models in Nanaimo, specifically Assertive Community Treatment (ACT).
The session closed with a brain injury survivor speaking to the lifelong impacts of brain injury and the difficulties navigating mental health, substance use, criminal justice, and homelessness as a survivor.
As a finale to the series, speakers called on all participants to advocate for capable, specialized, comprehensive, integrated, and needs-based, on-demand, community-based services for people with brain injury and their families.