More community neurorehabilitation teams urgently needed

Just two CHOs out of nine have these teams in place

Deborah Condon

March 9, 2023

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  • While nine community neurorehabilitation teams are required for Ireland, just two are currently up and running, the Neurological Alliance of Ireland (NAI) has said.

    This means that just 15% of neurological patients in Ireland have access to this vital type of care.

    The NAI is calling on the HSE to tackle the absence of these vital teams in seven of the nine community healthcare organisations (CHOs) nationwide.

    “Once a person receives a diagnosis of a neurological condition, they need to be supported in their recovery and the management of their condition. That’s what a community neurorehabilitation team does. It brings together healthcare professionals from a range of disciplines such as occupational therapists, speech and language therapists, physiotherapists and clinical psychologists to enable a person living with a neurological condition to live well,” explained NAI executive director, Magdalen Rogers.

    As well as the impact on individuals, these teams also save the health services vast sums of money.

    “For every euro spent on a community neurorehabilitation team, the health service saves €11. Having these teams in place is vital in reducing the length of stay and delayed discharges, therefore freeing up beds in acute hospitals.

    “The neurorehabilitation team also prevents unnecessary admissions to hospitals and improves the overall wellbeing and quality of life of patients with a range of neurological conditions. We have estimated that having the teams in place could save up to 42,000 bed days annually,” Ms Rogers said.

    Sinead Lucey Brennan from Dublin is living with an acquired brain injury after she suffered a stroke six years ago that was brought on by a brain haemorrhage.

    “When I was discharged from Beaumont Hospital, there was no team in place in the community. I had no support. I had to wait 10 months to see a neuropsychologist, who directed me to Headway. Without their support group I wouldn’t have been able to deal with the day-to-day challenges I face.

    “We are completely lacking when it comes to supporting people living with neurological conditions in the community. Neurological patients need timely access to rehabilitation. We shouldn’t have to fight for these services. We need our represented electives and the HSE to take action now,” she insisted.

    This issue was raised as part of a briefing with Oireachtas members on March 9 ahead of Brain Awareness Week, which runs from March 13-19. It is also being highlighted as part of the NAI’s ‘Patients Deserve Better’ campaign. For more information on this campaign, click here.

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