People recovering from serious brain injuries are in danger of falling through the gaps during the pandemic, a leading personal injury lawyer has said.
As the NHS frees up beds to deal with the Covid-19 crisis, some vulnerable people are facing up to the challenge at home, through virtual rehab and visits from carers.
Jill Greenfield, partner and head of the serious injury team at law firm Fieldfisher, works with clients who have suffered life-changing injuries, including brain damage and amputation.
She said: “It’s mainly people who have had car accidents, accidents at work, so pretty tragic stuff. Some may have had family members who have died as well.
“Trying to cope in this new world is incredibly difficult for all of us, but especially for people who are so vulnerable and rely on help so much.”
Ms Greenfield has acted fast to secure financial support from insurers as well as getting the right care for her clients in the “extraordinary” circumstances.
But she said there were bound to be cracks in the system, as the lockdown increased isolation.
In an interview with the PA news agency, Ms Greenfield said: “There are always going to be gaps. This is an extraordinary situation where there are bound to be people who have gone home who don’t have an awful lot of support and if they do have support, that person may be ill.
“I did have one client who usually had someone come in three times a day to help with her medicine and that stopped pretty quickly.
“Fortunately, I was able to get someone to organise a solution to that problem.
“The family were really worried. The son was self-isolating. It was not an easy scenario.”
She highlighted difficulties carers were having in getting face masks and said it was “really important” that testing was available as they were exposed to numerous people in their working day.
Ms Greenfield told how she was able to help one woman who was about to be discharged from hospital.
She said: “It was clear the hospital quite understandably needed to clear their beds.
“She was not able to go home, she needed two-to-one support.
“She lived on her own so I was able to put her in a specific rehab unit that was able to take her.
“So I worked with the insurers to make that happen.
“Normally they would have spent more time in hospital.
“Now there was a pressure to move her, which we were able to organise – which was great actually.
“It helped her and it helped the hospital and I was pleased about that.”
While some clients had been “panicked” by the pandemic, the more stoical just wanted to “get on with it”, she said.
“They have faced catastrophe before so they are quite sanguine about it.
“I was pleasantly surprised by how many people said, ‘We are all in it, there’s nothing we can do about it, let’s get on with it’.
“If they can’t get the shopping or they need help, they know they can call their case manager, or one of their therapists or me and we can sort something out for them.
“It is very isolating. I think we are all going to struggle with this.
“The people I’m dealing with have an awful lot of psychological support, a lot of people out there don’t have that and that is obviously a worry.”
Ms Greenfield said emotional wellbeing was very important and combating the spread of fake news was a “big issue”.
She went on: “Virtual packages for rehabilitation are working really well.
“The psychological support is one of the most interesting aspects of this.
“A phone call is not enough at the minute. You have got to have that video link with people.
“Having a virtual PA, if we can get them, is really helpful because it enables the family to not have to worry.”
Ms Greenfield said it was nice to see some people react to the crisis with good humour.
She added: “One of my clients said, ‘Well, I’ve been self-isolating for the last three years, Jill’ so it doesn’t make much difference to him.”