The Silverlining Brain Injury Charity – survey of members gives insight into how they are coping with COVID-19 lockdown
At Bolt Burdon Kemp we are proud to support charities like the Silverlining Brain Injury charity. They support people nationwide through a network of local branches that offer free membership to all those affected by brain injury, including friends and family of brain injury survivors. Members are known as “Silverliners”. The charity provides opportunities for Silverliners to meet and engage in the wider community. They also organise activities such as music therapy and art classes, most of which are free of charge to take part in. Please see my previous blog on a gardening project that was due to go ahead this year but has been interrupted by the COVID-19 lockdown.
I have been very interested to read the results of a survey that the Silverlining Brain Injury Charity have carried out to see how their members are coping during the COVID-19 lockdown. A total of 50 people with brain injuries responded to a range of questions.
Fortunately no one said that they were not coping at all with the lockdown. Most (70%) said that they are coping OK with 26% coping well. However, 4% did say they are coping poorly.
This might be related to the fact that the majority of Silverliners – 76% were self-isolating with others and 94% did have at least 1-2 people to talk to everyday, with some having even more. Whereas 6% of those surveyed did not have anyone to talk to at all. We have all been advised to try to keep in touch with friends and family during this time to keep our spirits up.
Worryingly for those who rely on support workers, when asked if COVID-19 had interfered with their ability to have support workers, 12% said it had severely interfered and 20% said it had somewhat interfered. Only 6 % of those with support workers had not been affected at all (54% didn’t have support workers before).
As a solicitor with brain injured clients, sadly some of these results are not surprising. 49% of the Silverliners who took part in the survey answered that they suffered with depression (some moderately and some severely).
Regardless of the current situation, it is common for those who have sustained a brain injury to suffer with depression. Headway research found that 50% of people with a brain injury will suffer with depression within the first year after their injury and of course it can continue. This is clearly reflected in the Silverlining’s survey results too.
A result that is worrying is that 64% said their mood has been affected by COVID-19, with 54% identifying being moderately affected and 10% being severely affected.
56% reported that their anxiety has increased moderately and a further 10% severely too. Only 34% said that they did not have increased anxiety as a result of COVID-19.
One important outcome of this survey is that it shines a light on the experiences people with brain injuries are having during the COVID-19 lockdown. It is important for people who live with or are friends with a brain injury survivor to be aware of the effects isolation can have, especially surrounding mood changes and increased anxiety. Now is the time for us to pull together as a community. For me that means checking in with my clients more regularly to make sure they are doing OK.
The survey clearly shows that at a time where usual avenues of support for people might now be inaccessible, the Silverlining Brain Injury Charity and other groups like them are needed more than ever.
In response to the COVID-19 measures many are converting their services to be accessible online. The Silverlining London group have swapped their monthly get togethers for weekly zoom meetings. They are also making weekly telephone calls to members to keep in touch.
The BBK Adult Brain Injury team are very proud to support the Silverlining Brain Injury Charity. Suzanne Trask is a trustee of the charity. Tom Lax runs the book club and Sally Simpson and Victoria Moore will be helping with the Serenity Gardens Project at Homerton Hospital when lockdown is over.
The national lockdown in response to COVID-19 is particularly affecting charities, who rely on fundraising events to generate an income. Please consider supporting the Silverlining to deliver online support to their members by donating via their Aviva page.