We were delighted to participate in the recent symposium with Professor Jacinta Douglas hosted by the New Zealand Rehabilitation Association. In her presentation entitled:
“Community reintegration and social connection for people with brain injury”
Professor Douglas discussed the social isolation and loneliness frequently experienced by people with acquired brain injury (ABI). Around 35 people attended – mainly clinicians working with people following brain within inpatient and community-based rehabilitation settings.
The BAIL team (including people with the lived experience of disability and researchers) thinks it is vitally important that we do research and design services that better support people to be socially connected.
Social connection refers to forming and maintaining various interpersonal relationships which are significant and satisfying and that extend beyond the family. People who experience disability frequently report wanting to be actively integrated and connected within their social relationships. Their sense of self is often maintained in terms of their experiences in social and activity contexts – whether they were feeling ‘part of things’ or not. Importantly, people often prioritise being able to contribute to relationships, rather than just being in receipt of care and support.
So, it was wonderful to spend the morning thinking about these issues and having time to reflect on the ways that the services support (or don’t do so well at supporting) the development or maintenance of social connections.