An integral part of the mission here at the Transitional Learning Center has always been facilitating brain injury survivors’ return to the greater community. In today’s post, we go to TLC’s Community Integration Specialist Lauren Mitchell (CTRS, CBIS) for a detailed summary of some of the steps TLC takes specifically dedicated to aiding its patients in this vital aspect of the road to recovery:
TLC is a community re-entry rehabilitation program for brain injury survivors. Therefore, on any given day its patients and vehicles can be spotted all over Galveston Island. My role as a Community Integration Specialist is to work with the more independent patients at TLC and help them integrate back into the (Galveston) community during the course of their individual rehabilitation programs. I function as part of the Case Management department and solicit input from the clinical team regarding a patient’s current functional and cognitive appropriateness for a possible Community Integration Experience (CIE). In short, a CIE is when a TLC patient gets matched up with an outside site in the Galveston community in order to work on his or her therapy goals. The patient is asked to complete a questionnaire about the experience at the conclusion of each week and discuss any difficulties or problems that may have been encountered. This input is then used to develop strategies to help improve future experiences. I serve as the person who coordinates between the patient, the site supervisor and the treatment team at TLC.
The following scenario gives an illustration of a potential Community Integration Experience for a hypothetical patient:
John has done very well during his first four weeks at TLC. He is walking safely around campus and has been observed doing same during supervised outings in the community. He has graduated from highly monitored dorm-style residence at TLC into almost entirely independent living in one of the apartments that TLC keeps on-campus for just that purpose. John has shown that he handles himself in a responsible manner and his treatment team recommended that he be screened for a Community Integration Experience. Lauren, the Community Integration Specialist, sat with John and determined some of his interests. She learned that his interests include cooking and working in the restaurant industry. John needed a Community Integration site that would give him opportunities to work on his higher level balance and problem solving skills as well as present occasions when he could implement memory strategies developed in therapy. Lauren was able to arrange a meeting between John and a local café owner to see if John would be able to spend a few hours a week in a restaurant setting. John was excited to enter into a situation that would allow him to help people in the Galveston community while addressing therapy goals at the same time.
Over the next several weeks, John went to the café on Tuesday afternoons and helped with various tasks that addressed the cognitive and physical skills he was seeking to improve upon. He could be seen there greeting patrons, rolling silverware, filling beverage orders, sweeping floors, learning the menu, and even serving tables their food. John came to Lauren when he had difficulties at the café and they problem-solved through situations using suggestions from the therapy team. After his fourth week at the café, the owner asked John to take on a few more challenging tasks and gave him more responsibility. John came back to campus on Tuesday afternoons feeling empowered and with a positive attitude about his future. Over the course of his Community Integration Experience, John met and exceeded his therapy goals related to balance, problem solving and memory. After leaving TLC, John was able to return to working at his previous job as a server in a restaurant.
Not every patient will leave TLC to return to his or her previous place of employment, nor is this necessarily the primary focus of a Community Integration Experience. A CIE at TLC is a way to incorporate real life situations and scenarios into the patient’s therapy program. Thus far, several patients have been able to successfully enjoy a CIE in the Galveston community. The following businesses and institutions have welcomed TLC patients into their facilities:
Mosquito Café, Colonel Bubbies Stand Surplus Center, Chalmers Hardware & Embroidery, Galveston Island Humane Society, Galveston Wreath Company, Holy Family Parish, Galveston Railroad Museum, Island ETC, Our Daily Bread, Galveston College, Ronald McDonald House of Galveston, Gulf Health Care Center and Lighthouse Charity Team.
Learn about brain injury treatment services at the Transitional Learning Center: tlcrehab.org