Acquired Brain Injury Week

Acquired Brain Injury Week

Approximately 2000 people a year in Northern Ireland sustain and are living with the long-term effects of a brain injury.

Brain injuries can be caused by a number of different reasons including falls, road traffic accidents and assault. The effects on the person with the brain injury and on their families can be life changing.

This week (9th-15th May) has been designated Acquired Brain Injury Week and the Regional Acquired Brain Injury Implementation Group (RABIIG) is highlighting its progress since it was established in June 2010.   

RABIIG is jointly managed by the Health and Social Care Board and Public Health Agency and has membership from the five health and social care trusts, statutory bodies, voluntary organisations, service users, parents and carers. Following the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s Regional Review of Brain Injury Services in 2008, RABIIG is progressing the recommendations produced in the Action Plan. To date, its primary focus has been to improve early diagnosis, treatment, rehabilitation, care and support for people affected by acquired brain injury, their families and care.

It is producing Service Standards and Quality Indicators will give an indication of the level of performance, based on best care and best practice, which people should expect from brain injury services across Northern Ireland. This will help ensure that despite any differences in services, the care that is delivered will be of the same standard regardless of age or postcode.

In addition, work is ongoing to produce an Information Resource Pack for professionals, carers and service users, which will be designed and developed by parents and carers themselves. Service users, parents and carers’ views are instrumental to all the key developments being implemented by RABIIG. 

Susan Soutar from Whiteabbey, County Antrim and mother of 26 year old Clare who suffered a brain injury 11 years ago when she was hit by a car on a crossing, on her way home from school said;

“My only daughter's whole life changed in an instant after her accident, as did the lives of her family. The unpredictable and diverse effects of brain injury on family life can be devastating. I welcome the opportunity to be involved in RABIIG to improve services for everyone suffering from brain injury and their families and carers in Northern Ireland.”

RABIIG is jointly chaired by Dr Paul Darragh, Public Health Agency and Kevin Keenan, Health and Social Care Board who said;

“Health and social care is facing major challenges however we are determined to address as many of the actions identified in the regional Brain Injury Review as possible. In the first instance this may involve re-design rather than new investment but we are confident real improvements can be made to how services are provided.”

For further information please contact Martina McCafferty, Service Improvement Project Manager, tel: 7186 0086 or

Further information

For further information contact:

Nataleen Surgenor or Elizabeth Owen,

Public Relations, Health and Social Care Board on

Tel: (028) 2531 1015 or (028) 9055 3626.

Notes to the editor

Susan Soutar is available for interview by contacting the Health and Social Care Board; details at the end of these notes.

Below are additional comments made by Susan that you may wish to use;

“After an eventful and often traumatic 11 months in hospital Clare finally came home.  Everything was very difficult for us all. Clare was not the same girl; she was in a wheelchair with severe physical and cognitive disabilities.  She was totally dependent on us.

“I have had to give up my business to become a full-time carer and sadly am now a single parent. My four boys, now aged 16 to 27, have been terrific and are incredibly supportive to Clare and myself but they have their own lives to lead. Clare's disability is life-long "cradle to grave" therefore services and support for my family is vital.  Living with brain injury is like living with a time-bomb!

“Unfortunately I am getting older and there is the worry about Clare's future care. I worry that she will be bored, isolated and unhappy.  Good, age appropriate, brain injury services are vital to help support carers and families dealing with the immense stress and difficulties associated with brain injury on a 24/7 basis. Perhaps then carers will be able to feel more confident for a happy future for our loved ones which, at the end of the day, is what we all desire for our families.

“I feel this review of services is really positive and focused for the way forward.  I only hope everyone will continue to work together and we will successfully make big improvements in services for all those with mild, moderate and severe brain injuries province-wide"

- Susan Soutar and her daughter feature in the attached photo.