- The Cridge Brain Injury Services
- Personalised Supports Initiative Services
- Information on Brain Injury
- Survive – Strive – Thrive
Safe housing, nutritious food, and healthy relationships are the rights of every citizen regardless of his or her economic or social status. In meeting these basic needs, communities and society as a whole, thrive. However, for many individuals living with mental illness, addictions, and disabilities, these essentials are often unattainable. In particular, growing numbers of people living with the outcome of a brain injury are destitute and homeless. A study in Toronto found that 52% of the homeless had a traumatic brain injury (Colantonio study, 2005).[i] The question is: what should we be doing about the exponential growth of brain injury, trauma and homelessness?
The Victoria Times Colonist (October 20, 2007/Carolyn Heiman) reported that an estimated 1,500 people in the capital region are living in unstable housing or homeless.[ii] If we extrapolate the statistics from the Colantonio study of homelessness and brain injury, we would estimate that about 780 of the homeless in Greater Victoria are survivors of a brain injury. A more troubling and sadder statistic is that it is estimated that as high as 69% – 538 of the homeless – had their first episode of a traumatic brain injury before they became homeless. Having to deal with a range of challenges from unhealthy living conditions to poor nutrition, homeless individuals face greater risk of additional health issues. Homeless survivors of brain injury often are dealing with substance abuse or mental health issues in addition to cognitive or behavioural problems. They face an increased risk of being victimized and complicating their health further by not maintaining a proper medication regime.
Although the picture may look bleak, there is a way to turn this around. Investing in prevention, education and rehabilitation programs for survivors of a brain injury is key. This will ensure that each person surviving a brain injury receives the services and support needed to ensure the quality of life we would expect as Canadians.
The systems and agencies that assist people with traumatic brain injuries need to continue to re-energize our mandate. There is a need for advocacy and support to ensure that care is provided when longer periods of recovery and treatment are needed. Failure to do so will result in unacceptable financial and social costs.
We need to recognize that there are models of service that are much more cost effective that are currently underfunded, such as the independent housing with supports and the brain injury residence that The Cridge Centre for the Family runs.
We have problems in our region of compromised safety; we have increased expenses, and demands on our criminal justice system; we have ‘community health’ issues, impacting tourism and the business community; we have crippling costs in the acute phases of care within the health structure; we have unsupported survivors losing their lives to the streets.
However, when we provide quality support after brain injury, including appropriate housing, survivors of a brain injury will be able to maximize their own potential. They will be positive, contributing members of our community; we are seeing it happen every day with the survivors we are serving.
We must bring our shared public and private resources together in a renewed effort. We must allocate funding in a more cost effective manner, to change lives and to change our community for the better. For more information about brain injury and how The Cridge is supporting survivors, contact Geoff Sing at 250 479 5299 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
[i] Colantonio, Angela. “The Nature and Extent of Inappropriate Living Environments for Adults with Moderate to Severe Traumatic Brain Injury” Toronto. 2005.
[ii] The Times Colonist “Key Findings on Victoria’s 1500 Homeless”, by Carolyn Heiman, October 20, 2007.
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The Cridge Centre for the Family
1307 Hillside Avenue,
Victoria, B.C. Canada V8T 0A2