Accommodation options after a brain injury
The effects of a brain injury can
be very diverse, so a wide range of accommodation options are
Unfortunately people may end up homeless or in prison due to
challenging behaviours, the difficulties of relearning life skills,
and the frequent lack of support. Exploring accommodation and
support options is recommended once rehabilitation begins.
Appropriate options are often scarce so it pays to look ahead and
plan early. Points to consider include:
- Level and type of support needed
- Funding available to the person
- The family's social support network
- Capacity of the family to look after the person in the
- Services available in the area.
Accommodation options need to be
flexible, so that people can move to more independent accommodation
options as they relearn life skills during the recovery
process. We will start with the high support options
and work through to more independent accommodation options.
These simply shouldn't be an option,
especially for younger people with a brain injury. But nursing
homes often are the last resort for people with a severe brain
injury when they can't afford anything else.
Long-term residential care
Governments occasionally do fund a small
number of these facilities specializing in brain injury. There are
usually very long waiting lists. Slow-stream rehabilitation units
also offer a measure of ongoing rehabilitation - a great idea as
improvements are still possible even years after the injury.
Unfortunately these facilities are almost always in capital
cities so family members may have to travel long distances to
This normally involves houses in the community
where support workers provide the required amount of support and
supervision. This can vary from around-the-clock care, to a few
visits each week. In many countries, governments have provided this
option for people with intellectual disabilities, but usually not
for people with brain injuries. Non-government agencies like
Synapse receive funding to set up brain injury-specific supported
Living with friends or family
Families may choose this option because they
would prefer to care for their loved one personally, or because
they find the available alternatives inappropriate or expensive.
Getting plenty of support is crucial in taking on this demanding
role. Access as much respite care as possible to get regular
breaks. Check on the government funding if you take on a caring
A creative alternative chosen by some families
is to build a detached dwelling so that their loved one can live
semi-independently, but have ready access to support. Another
option is to buy or rent an apartment nearby.
Hostels are typically large houses divided
into small bedrooms, often with on-site managers who provide
differing levels of supervision which may include meals,
supervision of challenging behaviours, laundry services and
medication supervision. Hostels aren't suitable for people with
high-level care needs such as need for nursing assistance e.g.
toileting, personal care. Many hostels cater for people with a
mental illness and have psychiatric support specialists visiting on
a regular basis. They are rarely suitable for people with a brain
Own home with support
There is usually limited government funding
for lifestyle support e.g. support workers to assist someone to
live independently. In some countries a person with a severe brain
injury may be fortunate enough to afford support workers
around-the-clock. In other cases it may only be a weekly visit.
Sometimes, there may be free support through community agencies. If
so, there will be very long waiting lists.
Ask your local Brain Injury
Check with the Brain Injury Association in
your State on what other support may be on offer. There are other
services such as home-delivered meals and community nursing
which can be useful. Your Brain Injury Association will
also know of all the available funding options that are available,
and who to contact.