Tuesday, 7 July 2009

Tuesday 7th July

I am glad to be home. Looking at the Undertakings I set out before I left, I make a list of things I did and didn't achieve.
1) I made a tour of brain injury reahbilitation programmes in the United States of America! I visited Clubhouses in Virginia. I visited Edgar Cahn in Washington DC. I visited John Corrigan and the TBI Network in Ohio. I visited the Brain Injury Day Programme at NYU in New York. In addition, I visited Fountain House, the original mental health Clubhouse and the TBI Program at Mout Sinai Hospital, both in New York City. I also met with people from design professions in both Virinia and New York, and developed an understanding of how design and innovation might have a part to play in acheiving Headway East London's mission of supporting people with brain injury and changing society's attitudes towards disability.
2) I learned from these programmes! I learned about their principles and intentions, their financing and their origins and development. I learned about what they do and how well they do it.
3) I asked the participants what was important to them. I talked to many people and learned about what worked and what didn't, about what made a difference and why they were involved in the first place.
4) I learned that there are indeed some common themes and principles involved in many programmes, but that these prinicples can be divided quite plainly based on the intentions of the programme (more on this later).

1) I didn't visit Florida or Albany or Chicago. The program in Florida collapsed and Larry, the director, moved to California. Chicago proved to be a stretch too far. Albany was impossible for other reasons.
2) I didn't develop a clear protocol for gathering data about the programs. I'd had the idea that I could interview participants and staff and draw information from these interviews about what really mattered to people after brain injury. This was overly ambitious.
3) I didn't get as far as California, to learn about disability rights movements. This idea came up during the trip, but, again, proved impractical.

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