Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children
by Kellie Duckworth 5.23.2007
Team Leader, Brain Injury Team
Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children
Sunny Hill Health Centre for Children is a provincial facility offering specialized services to children with disabilities, their families and communities throughout British Columbia. Using a family-centered approach, Sunny Hill helps promote the healthy development of children and youth by supporting families and community service providers in their efforts. It is also a resource for education services and information about disabilities. Sunny Hill serves children from birth to age 19.
Sunny Hill provides services for children [and infants] who have sustained an acquired brain injury (ABI). An ABI is an injury that results in the disruption of the normal structure and function of the brain. The term ABI refers to a brain injury that has occurred after birth and does not include injuries to the brain that are congenital or the result of birth trauma. Both traumatic brain injuries (e.g. resulting from an accident [or abuse]) and non-traumatic brain injuries (e.g. resulting from a stroke or meningitis) are seen at Sunny Hill.
Following acute medical care, Sunny Hill provides acute rehabilitation and assessment. While children referred must be medically stable, many are not yet fully conscious and function at a low-level state. Each child admitted through the Brain Injury Team is an individual and their story is unique to them. Every child?s experience will be different as no two injuries are alike. Therefore the Sunny Hill Brain Injury Team builds a team around each child that is specific to them. This team may include a physician, nursing, a pharmacist, an occupational therapist, a physiotherapist, a speech language pathologist, a recreation therapist, an aquatic therapist, a music therapist, a social worker, a neuropyschologist and a teacher. The team that is built around the child is specific to their needs. The team will work with the child, their family and community throughout the rehabilitation process at Sunny Hill.
What is Rehabilitation at Sunny Hill?
Rehabilitation challenges and channels the process of spontaneous recovery. It involves both relearning skills and learning ways to compensate for skills the child has lost. The goal of rehabilitation is to return the child to as independent a level of function as possible. Rehabilitation at Sunny Hill is provided by an interdisciplinary team of professionals experienced in the assessment, treatment, and community reintegration of children with brain injuries.
Maximizing a child's health, abilities & independence
The child [or infant] with a brain injury goes through a process of spontaneous recovery or natural healing which takes place most rapidly in the first six months following the injury and continues for several years. The speed at which children progress through the levels of recovery varies greatly. Progress may slow down or even stop at any time. Very few children (if any) totally return to "pre-accident status". The rehabilitation professionals guide the child/family through the process of recovery and strive to maximize the child?s health, abilities and independence at every stage.
How is it done?
Maximizing recovery of skills and abilities
Rehab professionals identify the child's underlying strengths and skills that require further development (i.e. Balance, strength, thinking skills) to perform daily life activities (ie. Dressing, bathing, eating, mobility)
Learning how to adapt & compensate for challenges
When a child has specific challenges as a result of their head injury, rehab professionals can teach the child/family to perform desired activities using equipment or alternative strategies (i.e. Transfer techniques, use of computers and other technology for communication or environmental controls).
Education & training for families and caregivers
A child's family and their community caregivers are the most important members of the rehab team as they will facilitate the child's long term rehabilitation. Therefore, the Sunny Hill rehab team must teach the child's caregivers how to promote skill development and to provide care in a therapeutic manner. Education and training must occur on a regular schedule throughout the child?s stay at Sunny Hill for the family to fully benefit from this intensive period of rehabilitation.
Support emotional & social adjustment to brain injury
The social worker and entire rehab team are available to support the child and family through what is likely to be a very difficult and challenging period of adjustment. Family members will be offered opportunities for counseling, links to community resources, and are encouraged to participate in the child's therapy program. We will try to provide emotional support as you make decisions regarding future commitments, living arrangements and financial considerations. We provide information and help as you adjust to a new image of your child and develop reasonable expectations for the future.
Return to home and community
Planning for a return to home or community begins from the day a child arrives at Sunny Hill. The goal of discharge planning is to facilitate a smooth transition from the rehab centre to the community. The rehab team will also ensure that when your child leaves the centre a care plan is in place. Whenever possible we work towards discharging the child to their home. In some extraordinary circumstances, because of the care requirements of the child, it may not be feasible for the child to return to their home. In these instances we work towards discharge to an appropriate care setting in your home community.
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