On reflection, this last year has been one of great learning.
Managing service delivery within a pandemic has required innovation, patience and understanding by and between all our staff and participants and has been the challenging experience we have all shared.
We have deepened our understanding of the contribution to be made by online service delivery, whilst strongly appreciating people both need and enjoy coming together for face-to-face contact. This will valuably inform our future model of regional service provision, utilising technology and combining both virtual and face to face service delivery.
We have been very fortunate in South Australia that whilst we were restricted for certain periods of the year in seeing our participants face to face, we were able to return to relatively normal forms of service delivery for much of the time despite the ongoing nature of the pandemic.
The year has emphasised for us all the risk and impact of isolation amongst our participant group. Even if able to go out, people with all types of disabilities have carried an enhanced fear of infection due to overall personal health challenges. From our surveying of issues important to the brain injury community, we know the impact of lost social connectivity post injury ranks highly, further emphasised by restrictions imposed by the pandemic. During this time, it has been very pleasing to see the growing popularity of our Catch-Up Groups which have provided valuable social engagement and connection during this time. Led by our Allied Health student cohort, and occurring weekly during student placements, they have been a great example of Brain Injury SA (BISA) responding to identified needs with innovative solutions. Informal in nature, they allow people to come together to chat, share, know that they are not alone and have the support of Allied Health students to practice communication and social engagement. We thank all the students who have been involved in this for making it happen.
Important to Brain Injury SA is the continued focus on how we can better meet the needs of the brain injury community. This has included a more detailed examination as to how we can best facilitate peer support amongst our participants, building on the role it has played in our Reconnect Transition Program (RTP) and youth Reconnect Transition Program (yRTP) program over a number of years. Funding permitting, we hope to take this to a new level in the coming year. We have also pursued some ways to benefit welfare of families and carers who face their own challenges when a loved one sustains a brain injury. During the year this has led to collaboration with South Australian Health and Medical Research Institute (SAHMRI) in their ongoing research and service provision in the areas of stress management and building of resilience.
Opportunities for engagement with others has been difficult during the year, but the launch of Brain Injury Awareness week was a great success, its limited face to face audience supplemented by many more in our first online stream of the event. Sadly, the participant 2020 Christmas party was not possible due to restrictions at the time but was successfully replaced by an Easter 2021 version where people could attend for alternative seasonal festivities. We continue to pursue partnership with likeminded organisations to strengthen the community response to brain injury and the needs of individuals when this occurs.
At the heart of our service provision are the stories of achievement. Our Rewire program goes from strength to strength in bringing a range of Allied Health services together to support people achieve their goals under an interdisciplinary model of service provision. We are pleased to share some of these stories with you in this report to illustrate that brain injury can create major change in people’s lives but in working with you we can find direction, support your resilience and create hope at times when it seems elusive. These stories are the best testament to the year of our work that this report represents and are a celebration of the achievements of all our participants.
I would like to take this opportunity to thank the Board and staff in their contribution to all that has been achieved this year. The Board for their time and diligence during the year and all the support that goes with that. The staff for continuously seeking more with which to assist our participants. More resources, more knowledge, more training and their continued and persistent energy to pursue the delivery of more and better services and importantly better outcomes, for all those we work with.
Annual Reports both document the year passed but also contribute to recording the history of an organisation. BISA is about to enter its 30th year of providing services, established as it was, to be an organisation that specialises in addressing and advocating for the needs of people with brain injury in the community. I hope this report on a year of pandemic and all it has brought with it will be both a reminder of and testament to the importance of just “being there” for people when things are difficult or feel a bit crazy. Importantly we want Brain Injury SA to continue to be a place where brain injury is understood and needs can be heard, whatever else may be happening.
Chief Executive Officer