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Visitation reports - Busy, Busy, Busy: 2009 in Retrospect

Activities This Year:
Despite the busyness of this year with all the Visitations, etc., we have also been looking to improve the service we provide to our clients.  Producing the Journal brought home to us the importance of the list of benefits and resources available and more importantly, the need for advocacy.  Below is a list of secondary activities we have performed this year as well as seminars that we attended in order to establish liaisons with various groups and finding people with specialized advocacy skills and who could advocate on behalf of our clients.  Knowing what benefits to apply for, how to fill out the forms, and where to look for resources, etc.

Team Meetings:
I have been attending team meetings for our clients at GF Strong and have been taking a different volunteer each time in order to rotate everyone through these.  We will continue doing this next year so that everyone gets a chance.  We don't have to say anything if we don't want to.  Just our being there provides moral support for our client and they always say that they were happy that we were there.  It is difficult for a client sitting at a table by themselves which is surrounded by health professionals and discussing health issues in which they have no expertise but they still know what bothers them and what changes they want.  Having us at their side gives them confidence to speak up on issues of importance.

We established contact with a Social Worker at GF Strong who has arranged a meeting with Dave Munro and myself in January with all the Social Workers there.  We will be able to make a presentation about what AIM is about and how we help our clients.  We are hoping that this will result in establishing a formal liaison for AIM with GF Strong and that the Social Workers will then be able to refer any injured motorcyclists directly to us - with their permission of course.  They are apparently very interested in seeing our Journal.  She has also arranged for us to meet personally, beforehand with the Social Worker who works on the brain injury floor as well.

The Journal has been completed and many handed out, both to our clients and other interested organizations that can assist us.  I am currently working on completing the training manual (AIM Visitation Guidelines).  Upon completion, we will then be able to provide a training course for each Chapter.

Brain Injury Seminar:
A Social Worker and a doctor specializing in brain injuries at the GF Strong Centre put on a morning seminar recently on how to cope with a brain injury; specifically for family and friends.  They explained what happens in a brain injury and some of the typical symptoms and how to deal with them.  A number of our Visitation Volunteers attended as this will help during our visitations.

Looking for Advocates:
There are areas of help in which we do not have expertise and we have been looking for people who are specialized in these areas and to whom we can refer our clients.  An example is applying for a disability pension.

BC Coalition of People with Disabilities:
In search of specialized advocates who can help our clients, Dave and myself met with the Executive Director of the BC Coalition of People with Disabilities (BCCPD).  For example, they help disabled people apply for a disability pension.  They explain how the system works and help the client fill out the forms.  They will go to bat for them if the request is denied and has to go to appeal.  We can now refer our clients directly to them.  The BCCPD helps people applying for other financial benefits as well.  They are knowledgeable about provincial and federal financial benefits that are available (web site:

Empowered Patient:
Dave and I also attended The Empowered Patient Conference in Nanaimo.  Well over 200 people attended from around the province.  Various speakers covered topics including "Empowering Patients to be Part of their Healthcare Teams," "Health Illiteracy," "Drugs Marketing," "Disclosure of Adverse Events and Medical Error," and "Quality improvement of Patient Care."  Also presented was "The Empowered Patient Guide to Hospital Care for Patients and Families."  The focus of this conference was patients' rights and that was one of the main reasons AIM was started.  This is even more relevant today.  We learned a great deal at this conference.  At one point during the conference we were able to speak to the entire group about AIM and what we do, showed them the Journal which sparked a great deal of interest, given its emphasis on rights, and we made a pitch for information about advocates.  We both were able to establish contacts with various people and organizations and in particular met a Nurse Advocate who will assist us.  As she lives in the Nanaimo area on the Island, she will be especially helpful to the Vancouver Island Chapter should they require her services.  We subsequently had a further meeting with that same Nurse Advocate here in Vancouver when she attended a conference here (web site:  We also were approached at the conference by a young gentleman who volunteered to do visitations.  We got his name and address and phone number and referred it to the Vancouver Island Chapter representative in Victoria as that is where he lives.

Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association Seminar:
Earlier this fall yours truly attended a two day conference in Abbotsford sponsored by the Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association.  It covered homelessness and drug addiction. The speakers covered a wide range of related topics.  I was able to make a connection with the Fraser Valley Brain Injury Association and they, and other Brain Injury Associations throughout the province can assist and advocate for any of our clients who have suffered brain injury.  They will be extremely helpful when our clients go home anywhere in the province as recovery from a brain injury takes many months.  They provide support groups and can also help with obtaining benefits (web site:

We will continue to establish liaisons with various hospitals and look for more advocates.  For example, many motorcycle injuries involve brain injury.  There are local brain injury support groups throughout the province and we can refer a client to them when they return home.  They are also supportive of family members.  Their services are free.

Gary Richardson, Visitation Director

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