Over 94,000 Minnesotans live with a brain injury. Each year another 3,600 are hospitalized with a Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI). Brain injury (BI) is the leading cause of death and disability in children and adults under the age of 44. Many people, especially those in crisis, are unaware of what services are needed and available to them in their communities.
Our state hospitals and nursing homes are full of persons with BI. The Department of Human Services (DHS) reports 11,908 living in institutions in 2000–at a cost the state has been continually wrestling with. With appropriate information, resources, problem solving and advocacy to access supports and services, many of these individuals could live in the community and return to work at a considerable cost savings to the state.
Over the last few years the disparity between the number of persons with BI grew in comparison to the services available. The Brain Injury Association of Minnesota’s Board of Directors recognized a need to shift resources to address the public systems and barriers to people with TBI living in the community through an increased public policy agenda. The timing proved to be critical since the state is now facing the largest budget deficit that it has ever seen. Many highly needed and appreciated programs throughout the state will be sacrificed in order to make the necessary cuts in spending. Active public policy advocacy is essential in preserving funding for services to our state’s most vulnerable.
Regardless of the budget deficit, persons with BI are still in need of services and are not going away–and, in fact, are increasing in population every day. Now is not the time to compromise, reduce or eliminate services for persons with BI in Minnesota. As our governor states, we need to do more with less. The logical next step is Resource Facilitation.
Resource Facilitation (RF) is information, resources, problem solving and advocacy to access services and supports for children and adults with BI and their families. Every case is unique. Therefore, the nature of the service delivery system must be flexible and leverage community assets to address the diverse needs of each individual with BI. RF can save Minnesota millions of dollars per year by providing the right access to the right services and supports at the right time for persons with brain injury and their families.
For the past four years the Brain Injury Association of Minnesota has worked in collaboration with five hospitals and four state agencies–the departments of Human Services; Health; Children, Families and Learning; and Economic Security–to run the RF pilot demonstration project.
Persons with brain injury are offered Resource Facilitation before hospital discharge and remain connected for about two years. The benefits of RF are wide and varied. The pilot program has demonstrated that persons with BI who are connected to Resource Facilitation return to work at nearly twice the national average. RF increases the likelihood that children receive appropriate educational supports, as well as increasing the family’s ability to understand and support the individual. RF also reduces family crisis, long-term dependence on public assistance and the individual’s risk of institutionalization.
Resource Facilitation is common sense. By supporting legislation to fund RF, the state will provide a cost-effective means to ensure that persons with brain injury will be able to lead the highest quality of life possible in their own communities.