Having Faith in Rehabilitation
As a Lawyer specialising in Adult Brain Injury cases, I have seen first-hand the importance of obtaining the best possible rehabilitation for a client following their injury and how this can substantially improve the quality of their lives both in the immediate aftermath and the long term future.
Rehabilitation can include immediate post-acute support, active or slow stream rehabilitation or continuing care for clients. Rehabilitation for clients is provided by a number of people, even family and friends, but in a traditional medical setting these are staffed by clinical, therapy and support teams including:
- Consultant psychiatrists and neuropsychiatrists
- Consultant neuropsychologists
- Occupational therapists
- Speech and language therapists
- Rehabilitation consultants
In my experience of working with clients who have sustained life-changing brain injuries, I have come across a few clients that have sought a spiritual component to their recovery. Usually this is achieved through family contacts and guidance provided to these clients from their local churches, mosques and temples etc.
Whilst there are a number of rehabilitation clinics across the UK for drug/alcohol addictions, only a very small percentage of these focus on recovery from a spiritual perspective. Is it possible therefore to have access to a traditional neuro-rehabilitation centre which also provides opportunities to incorporate a spiritual component in their conventional treatments?
From my experience, this can and has been achieved. But how?
1. First and most importantly, whilst the priority should always be ensuring that all treatments have consistency in their approach and that they follow national guidance, this cannot lessen the fact that religion, culture and beliefs can influence how clients/patients understand health concepts, how they take care of their health and how they make decisions related to their health.
It is therefore vital that those providing the rehabilitation understand their patient and acknowledge that their patient’s beliefs can affect their coping strategies and mechanisms, their support networks, as well as their general well-being and mood. Understanding a client/patient can only be done by talking to them and addressing their values in the context of their health needs.
2. Regular training should be provided to those providing rehabilitation and to lawyers as well! Without the proper training, we are all subject to an increased risk of making mistakes.
If we don’t understand how health beliefs and cultural practices influence the way that advice is received, our delivery of that advice may be inadequate.
3. Reach out to others. Each client is different and their beliefs may differ to that of their family’s and even the commitment they had prior to the accident. It is therefore useful to understand the client within the context of their faith or culture. By reaching out to a member of a relevant religious or cultural group we could all enhance our understanding of the context of our client’s beliefs and engage in sharing observations of how their beliefs impact their views on health and rehabilitation.
There will of course be many other ways to increase our understanding of our client’s needs and help them achieve the best possible rehabilitation, but without speaking to one another we will not have the invaluable opportunity to share our knowledge.