Family says brain injury support lacking

Deana Stokes Sullivan
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The family of a 50-year-old man from the Southern Shore who sustained a brain injury from a serious fall earlier this year, are speaking out about the lack of services and supports for people in this situation.

Heather Clowe, Marjorie Dunne and Noella Clowe are sisters of Glenn Dunne, a father of three children, all younger than 16.

Their brother fell over a step in May, cut his head and was diagnosed with internal bleeding on the brain.

In an interview, Heather said Glenn had to have surgery in St. John’s to relieve the pressure on his brain and since the incident, his memory has been affected and he’s often very confused.

In June, she said, the family was told he would have to be cared for in a locked unit in a nursing home because of concern that he might wander off alone.

He was moved to the Hoyles-Escasoni complex, where most of the residents have Alzheimer’s disease or other dementias.

“We found the longer he was there, he started mimicking the patients, holding the wall, tapping the wall and all that,” Marjorie said.

The family voiced their concerns to a social worker that he wasn’t getting any mental stimulation and was actually declining physically and mentally.

Acting on their concerns, Heather said Eastern Health agreed to transfer him to what’s referred to as a “wander guard” unit at the Hoyles-Escasoni.

“They have a bracelet put on his arm and, if he does try to wander off, a beeper goes off and they can go and get him,” she said.

Within days, the family said he seemed more relaxed and comfortable, and he could actually carry on a conversation with other people in the unit.

Within the past couple of weeks, he had another setback. He fell and broke his hip and had to have surgery to replace his hip joint. Heather said it’s believed he had a seizure and fell.

The family members are optimistic he’ll recover from this fall, but they’re still worried about his chances of recovery from his brain injury.

Most of all, they’re concerned that he hasn’t had any therapy since the injury and they still believe a long-term care home for seniors isn’t an appropriate facility for younger adults with brain injuries.

His sisters said they were told he wasn’t a candidate for rehabilitation at the Miller Centre in St. John’s, and there’s no other facility in the region that offers services for people like their brother.

“He should be in a place with peers of his own,” Heather said. “And if they’d put him in therapy and just try it, he might improve,” Noella added.

But there’s been no therapy since his brain injury, she said.

The family say they’re not criticizing Eastern Health or the people involved in Glenn’s care. He’s had excellent care, Heather said.

The family would just like to see more resources and support specifically devoted to helping people recover after brain injuries. They figure if people like themselves stay silent, nothing will ever change.

Heather said the family has sent a letter to Eastern Health and has spoken to officials with the health authority who seemed to take their concerns seriously and promised to bring them up at an internal meeting.

Eastern Health was contacted by The Telegram, but did not provide a response by press time.

A letter the family wrote to The Telegram is published in today’s paper.

dss@thetelegram.com

Organizations: Miller Centre

Geographic location: Eastern Health

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  • marjorie ehrenclou
    November 07, 2011 - 11:48

    I am very sorry to read of your son's injury. Have you accessed the Brain Injury of America's website? It has links to support groups all over the country. If there is an office near you they may be able to provide you with suggestions regarding access to rehab treatment and perhaps caregiver support. The office in SC has a hotline as well as caregiver support groups throughout the state. We are working on spreading the word on prevention and awareness and have made much progress over the past few years. I understand your feeling of isolation.