Savannah: Making strides with STEPS

Savannah is a NIISQ participant who sustained a traumatic brain injury from a motor vehicle accident in July 2016 at the age of 19 years old.

Savannah started her rehabilitation journey in the Brain Injury Rehabilitation Unit (BIRU), Princess Alexandra Hospital where she spent three months receiving intensive allied health therapy. Following her discharge home from BIRU, Savannah continued her rehabilitation through a community based therapy team as well as receiving Rehabilitation Coordination with the Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Service (ABIOS), Princess Alexandra Hospital. NIISQ were also involved in supporting Savannah throughout this rehabilitation journey – and still are.

Savannah said that, “NIISQ have funded lots of services that have helped. Without NIISQ I would not have had access to the gym, physiotherapy sessions, adjustment to injury psychology and occupational therapy services which helped me return to work.”

NIISQ funded these services to assist Savannah with her rehabilitation and help her meet her goal of returning to work. NIISQ also funded the Occupational Therapy driving assessment which has assisted Savannah to return to driving, thus helping her become independent again.

Savannah described her typical day since the accident as “working an eight hour shift in a warehouse packing role. On a non-working day, I will access the gym to continue my physical strengthening, vestibular exercises and attend any therapy appointments.” Savannah also likes to catch up with her family and friends and keep active socially.

Savannah said, “There have been many changes and challenges along the way, but throughout the journey I have learned that people who have experienced a brain injury can achieve great things and make a valuable contribution to the community.”

Savannah is making strides with her recent membership in the STEPS program which provides Savannah with the opportunity to be actively involved in helping others who have experienced a brain injury.

About STEPS:

The Skills To Enable People and CommunitieS (STEPS) Program is a Queensland-wide information and skills program for adults aged 18-65 years with Acquired Brain Injury (ABI), including stroke, and their families and friends. The STEPS Program was established due to an identified need to provide self-management programs post hospitalisation to respond to the psychosocial, community and social participation impact of ABI.

The STEPS Program has more recently added STEPS Groups aimed specifically at young people with an ABI, which Savannah attends in addition to her local STEPS Network Group (for all ages).

Sue Wright, STEPS Program Manager said, “The STEPS Program is now in its tenth year of service delivery and has become an integral part of the service provided by ABIOS. It is based on self-management and provides people with brain injury and family members an opportunity to discuss the experiences they have had following brain injury, and talk about new issues and challenges in community living. Many participants experience social isolation following discharge from hospital and the STEPS Program can initiate people taking control of their life and fostering their own support networks.”

The program is based off a unique peer / professional model. Trained STEPS Program Peer Leaders work with a health professional or disability service provider to co-lead the six week Skills Program. Each leader brings their own skills, strengths and experiences to their role. It is a collaboration between professional and lived experience and participants welcome this approach.

“Group members report the STEPS Program provides them with a sense of achievement, motivation and confidence to try new things in their communities,” said Ms Wright.

All leaders participate in a free two day leader training. STEPS Program Leaders provide hundreds of hours of work to enable Skills Programs and Network Groups to occur. STEPS Program staff supervise STEPS Program Leaders to provide skill based education and support.

The STEPS Program recently partnered with Outward Bound Australia to participate in a five day Potential Unlimited Brain Injury Adventure Program, which was run at the Northern NSW / QLD Base of Outward Bound in Uki, Tweed Valley from 11-15 June 2018. This program was specifically designed for adults who have experienced a brain injury and combined a range of challenging outdoor adventure activities such as camping, hiking, abseiling and caving.

The activities were all designed to promote personal goal setting and group support to help people with brain injury achieve their potential.

Savannah said of the STEPS program,“I feel it is helping my self-esteem by staying positive. The outdoor camp was fun and full of adventure. I think the preparation has helped me with my planning and organisational skills as I helped organise a BBQ, raffle and sales tables. Also, I feel the STEPS program has helped me better understand my brain injury and my rehabilitation needs.”

NIISQ Support Planner, Lisa, said that “I am pleased that Savannah enjoyed the program as one of Savannah’s personal goals is to get back to physical exercise and fitness.”

Savannah wishes to tell others who may sustain a serious personal injury, “Don’t lose hope. Stay motivated, stay positive and participate in what you feel is right for you.”

We wish to congratulate Savannah on her involvement in STEPS and all that she has achieved.

To learn more about the STEPS program,

ABIOS is the Acquired Brain Injury Outreach Service