New Brain Injury clinic spark hope for affordable access

Posted 1 year ago by David McManus
Flinders University and Brain Injury SA team up to offer free allied health support. (Image source: supplied)
Flinders University and Brain Injury SA team up to offer free allied health support. (Image source: supplied)

The launch of BISA Connect, a student-led interdisciplinary allied health service offering blocks of therapy to adults with an ABI for a limited duration, is currently providing support to many without a source of funding and waiting for help.

Key points:

  • Flinders University and Brain Injury SA (BISA) collaborate for the BISA Connect clinics
  • The clinics offers free allied health support to people with an acquired brain injury (ABI)
  • The three clinics will run for eight weeks in a pilot trial

Aside from supporting many in desperate need of help with tasks that become significantly harder after an injury, BISA Connect provides a simulated work environment for allied health placement students to grow their skills in a supervised and supportive workplace. This is aimed at preparing them for the start of their careers in the industry.

Kathryn Ayles, Manager Allied Health Operations for Brain Injury SA says that the program is likely to continue providing support, based on early feedback and high demand.

“Yeah so there’s kind of two aspects to it, really. One — people wanting to access the NDIS as a source of funding need to have evidence of the impact of their disability on their day-to-day function. Reports can be expensive for people if they have to pay for those personally, so we have been looking at how we support the [BISA] service to enable them to access the support that they need,” she says.

“The other aspect is working with clients who currently receive services from us, who due to a change in their circumstance, are sort of low on funds, and unable to continue receiving the therapy that they need.”

Ms Ayles says the range of support that someone with an ABI needs varies, with the condition impacting socialising, relationships, work and recreation. Additionally, BISA Connect gives up-and-coming professionals from a range of different disciplines the chance to get experience on the job.

“We’ve been signed up to do three eight-week clinics across this academic year and we’re in week three of the first clinic now. We’ve had a significant amount of referrals just in-house from our [BISA] community and the staff that work here. If we were to advertise this and open it up to referrals from outside of our service, we would see plenty of people needing that. We’re hopeful that the clinic will be a success and we’ll see this rolling out across the next academic year as well,” says Ms Alyes.

So far more than 20 clients have been referred to the student clinic from internal channels, representing a small proportion of the expected wider demand. Ms Alyes says that it’s not about people wanting ‘extra sessions,’ it’s about helping people adjust to their current situation.

“It’s really about a sort of change in circumstance, a deterioration or an issue that’s come up for them. They need to prioritise accessing another service for example, counselling or psychology, but they still need to be accessing that physio or that speech therapist to continue to make progress, so [BISA Connect is] trying to fill that gap as well,” she concludes.

Professor Alison Kitson, Vice President and Executive Dean, Flinders University College of Nursing and Health Sciences says the new clinic provides services to the community that would otherwise be hard to access. “As a university, we are committed to developing partnerships with industry that not only provide services but drive change across the health care system.”

Referrals into the clinic are currently sourced from the parent organisation, Brain Injury SA, with each new referral to the organisation considered with a place in the free clinic. After the conclusion of the pilot, which is currently available from the Southern and Northern Brain Injury SA Hubs, expansion to the city is on the horizon.