For last year’s Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day, we were particularly struck by the stories that were shared by people living with spinal cord injuries. From Peter to Josh, Naomi to Carol, every account published by the Spinal Injuries Association was deeply personal and candid.
We’ve heard similar stories from individuals and families who’ve contacted us since we began providing spinal injury care in 1994. Lives that have been changed in a moment due to an accident, an injury sustained doing something that the person perhaps loved and may never do again, or an unexpected severe illness. Amongst all of the conditions we provide support for, few are characterised by being so sudden and life-changing, and these two elements together can leave our spinal injury clients with unique challenges.
The physical and mental health effects of having a spinal cord injury
By the time we meet our clients, most are on a well-established rehabilitation pathway, but it cannot be assumed that they have ‘recovered’ from what has happened to them. They may have had some time to begin to come to terms with it, but we know from many of the people we’ve supported that their life remains a constant twin battle of physical reminders and mental health struggles.
It’s important to remember that whilst many people will focus solely on the fact that the person is in a wheelchair, it is often the case that the biggest struggles the individual experiences are the unseen ones: frustration, depression, anxiety and emotions ranging from intense anger to deep sadness. It’s not always easy to articulate these feelings, or indeed find understanding in a world that still doesn’t fully embrace and appreciate the challenges disabled people face.
Raising awareness to improve understanding
As Spinal Research say:
“More than 50,000 people in the UK and Ireland are living with paralysis caused by a spinal cord injury. And every day, three people are told they will never walk again.”
These statistics are a reminder of how important it is that we continue to raise awareness of spinal cord injuries through events like Spinal Cord Injury Awareness Day. We need the people who experience such injuries to have communities to live in that support and understand them, and also to ensure that specialist care, like ours, is known-about and available when and where it is required.
A strong theme for many of our clients is a desire to get on with life: to adapt and move forward. So, whilst we ensure our live-in spinal injury carers are trained to provide comprehensive – and sometimes complex care (for many different aspects of spinal injury care, including autonomic dysreflexia), we equally expect our carers to be able to support the person to be as independent as possible.
A spinal cord injury will mean a different life, but it doesn’t have to be a dependent life. The combination of modern technology and specialist support can help individuals to not only live their life, their way, in their home, but to work, socialise, participate in sports and challenge themselves to be the very best version of themselves. Making that happen for the people we support is our passion and our privilege.
What our clients say about our live-in spinal injury care
We are very fortunate to support many amazing people who are living with a spinal cord injury. One such individual is Stephen Morton, who recently said this about his ENA live-in carers:
“Your carer is your team mate. Treat them as you would expect to be treated. Be humble and apologise when you’ve acted like an arse. You will have a different relationship with every individual carer, embrace the difference and you may discover a new film, musician or food that you love. Learn to laugh during the tough times and together, you won’t even flinch when the sh*t really hits the fan. Support your team mate.”
Many thanks Stephen for your candid thoughts, praise and appreciation of your live-in spinal injury carers. We are proud to be on your team.
Find out more about how ENA Care Group could support you or your family by calling 0800 4334 413 or emailing .