26th July, 2018
Some of my abilities both cognitive and physical, are not as strong as they were prior to my brain injury. This doesn't mean that I am no longer cognitively astute, but am aware that I am slower and much less efficient than I was prior to my brain injury. The impact of my brain injury is that I take longer to do tasks and need tools to assist my impaired memory and concentration. Despite these impairments, I am still striving to better myself and in this respect, I still hope to find employment that I find appropriate and desirable when I am ready to consider it.
When it comes to looking for employment I will need to be realistic in relation to the job roles I am able to pursue. Wherever I work I want to be an asset as an employee as opposed to just going to work as part of a rehabilitation project post brain injury. I want to be able to contribute to the workplace as any dedicated employee would.
The challenges are that my memory and concentration are poor, physically I am slow and I have a left sided weakness and blindness, making work related transportation and location an issue.
I have not yet reached a stage of my recovery where I am ready to return to employment. I still have much to accomplish but I am trying to look realistically at my employment prospects. This I find hard because what I could have possibly achieved in the past versus what I am doing now, is a hard pill to swallow and can make me feel very low. Not only the here and now, but the anxiety of what the future holds as I get older. That said, I have been given a lot of invaluable support from Headway Cambridgeshire, who have provided me with the tools and adaptations to accommodate my impairments and much support in relation to future independent living. The applications of such tools are down to me remembering to use them and despite encouragement and reminders I have quite a long way to go.
Those of you who have read some of my other blogs would have heard me say how influential my family have been in supporting me during my recovery from each additional surgical or medical intervention. During my current recovery, I have, on occasions and short periods, been working with my father as a volunteer, where I have been given some specific tasks to do that challenge my impairments. This has demonstrated how long it does now take me to get things done. My planning and organisation skills are significantly poor affecting task implementation. I am aware that I take a long time to do small tasks given to me and need to constantly seek reassurance and guidance.
I am very fortunate to get this exposure to a workplace environment with the empathetic support of a family member. My father understands the impacts of my brain injury and my ability to complete a task, but I am not so sure that paying employers would be quite so empathetic or accommodating. Volunteering is however, a step in the right direction to test the water for future employment prospects and one that I would encourage.
Trialing different tasks using the prompts and adaptions I have learnt in different scenarios has helped. For example, I initially found it difficult to remember what I had been doing and where I had left off during the previous voluntary session. With help from Headway and my father I now summarise my activity in an exercise book at the end of each session and refer to this at the beginning of the next. This has now become a habit that I do each time I go. I also have a white board on the wall there where I update my ‘to do’ list.
Reinforcement is key to my success and the prevention of errors as well the need to ask others. My memory is such that there is no way week on week I could begin to recall information without it. I reread any instructions to trigger my memory and help engage with an ongoing task. This all of course takes up valuable time that in a voluntary basis can be accommodated but in paid employment could be problematic.
In summary, my experience is:
“ The Hospital Brain Injury Co-ordinator became someone who absolutely understood how I felt, I didn’t need to explain. I could talk about my fears and worries. She was such a great support through the difficult days, but could also celebrate the small step successes, which was important to me. ”