Help for Heroes takes a person centred approach to rehabilitation

Help for Heroes was established to help those who have been injured or become ill whilst serving in our Armed Forces. Since they were founded in 2007, they have taken a person centred approach to help wounded veterans, empowering them to look beyond their injury, regain their purpose and reach their potential. The support extends to the veterans’ families, helping them find the strength they need to rebuild their family life.

The support offered by Help for Heroes includes life skill courses, sports and activities, as well as welfare and clinical advice. In addition, Help for Heroes offers fellowship, physical and psychological wellbeing support and access to grants.

The Help for Heroes Veterans Clinical Advisor (VCA) acts as a point of contact for veterans with complex injuries; they support with hospital appointments, advise on clinical equipment, treatment, housing adaptions and prosthetics. The VCA is a healthcare professional who understands both the circumstances of the injury or illness and how to guide veterans to the most appropriate care or support.

Case study

Simon wasn’t expected to survive his injuries and was one of Afghanistan’s most seriously injured veterans. With ongoing support, Simon’s quality of life continues to improve, and he is successfully living a life beyond injury.

See Simon’s story.

Challenges

Simon needs long term care, and Help for Heroes can provide him with access to speech therapy, physiotherapy and private carers to continue his rehabilitation. Help for Heroes still supports him ten years after his injury and long after the NHS permanently discharged him.

Many veterans, like Simon, need specialist, life-long care that the NHS do not have the resources to provide. Through the VCA role, Help for Heroes assesses all areas of a veteran’s life and makes sure their rehabilitation programme focuses on the individual needs. Thanks to LIBOR funding, which is now coming to an end, Help for Heroes could provide Simon and his family with a qualified care team.

To continue Simon’s rehabilitation when he felt he had plateaued, his physiotherapist introduced him to MindMotion Go. The system provides neurorehabilitation through games that retrain the brain, improving control, coordination and stamina. The system can be tailored to an individual’s needs and set to a level that challenges their recovery. Once a veteran has achieved one level of the game, they can move to the next, giving them a sense of achievement as they progress. Using the system a couple of times a day, for a few minutes has helped improve Simon’s walking.

Impact

The initial prognosis for Simon was bleak; he was expected to remain in a vegetative state for the rest of his life. Help for Heroes funded Simon’s speech and language therapy, his physiotherapy and the MindMotion Go. They were able to help him access the individual care that he needed to progress in his recovery. After steady progress over several years, he can now talk, walk a few steps, take part in activities, and enjoy life.

I like to show them [the people that said ‘you’ll never do that again’]… I can do it; I can live life and enjoy it

Simon Vaughan, Army veteran

His case study shows that veterans with life-changing or long-term injuries can continue to live life to the full when they have person-centred support that takes account of their needs and preferences. At Picker, we use our Principles of Person Centred Care as a quality framework for delivering consistent, high-quality care. Help for Heroes has ensured that Simon’s care has met each of the eight Principles.

Read more about Simon.

Going forward

For some wounded veterans, rehabilitation and recovery is complete and they will go on to lead full lives, but many require specialist support through a complex rehabilitation and recovery pathway for the remainder of their lives.

With the support of the Veterans Clinical Team and their range of life-changing services, Help for Heroes can continue to develop recovery pathways; reacting to the evolving needs of wounded, injured and sick veterans.

Recovery support for veterans with health challenges is being adapted and extended to reach further into the community and with a wider range of rehabilitation provisions. A big focus is introducing health coaching to empower and enable Veterans to do what matters for them; breaking down barriers in accessing health services to reach their life goals and involving their families and loved ones when appropriate.

Many of those Help for Heroes support fall into vulnerable groups, and they are committed to ensuring the needs of wounded veterans are met without compromising safety or wellbeing. They have now recommenced face-to-face appointments and assessments and many veterans have commented on how much they have missed the reassuring presence of the Help for Heroes clinical team.

The veteran is at the heart of everything we do. They are the experts in their own injuries and they know their recovery goals, so we partner with them to ensure their needs are fully understood and met. In 2007, we made a promise on behalf of the nation to be here for our wounded for as long as they need us. So far, we have supported more than 26,500 veterans and family members, and each year more veterans come forward for our support.

Carol Betteridge OBE, Head of Clinical & Medical Services

Picker is currently working with Help for Heroes on a literature review. This will help them to understand the current needs of the UK veteran population and inform their future strategic direction.

Picker was introduced to the work of Help for Heroes by our Patron, Stuart Bell CBE, who is also one of their trustees.

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