Kelowna has embarked on an ambitious five-year, $46.7 million plan to address homelessness in the city called the Journey Home Initiative. (Carli Berry - Capital News)

Over half of Kelowna homeless suffer from brain injuries: BrainTrust

Employment, concentrating, making ends meet difficult with invisible injury

Traumatic brain injuries (TBIs) affect between 50 and 60 per cent of homeless people, according to BrainTrust Canada.

In addition, 70 per cent of people acquired the injury prior to becoming homeless.

The injury sustained—whether in a car accident, a fight, in sport, intimate violence or even a fall at work—can alter personality, slow reaction time and thought processes and make it difficult to maintain employment.

This can lead to a downward spiral resulting in homelessness, said BrainTrust CEO Mona Hennenfent.

READ MORE: UBC Okanagan awarded grant for homelessness research

READ MORE: Supportive housing first step to healing: BC Housing CEO

Based out of Kelowna, BrainTrust works in collaboration with community partners to ensure its clients can secure housing and stay there.

Representatives from the organization work as the middle-person between landlords and tenants to mitigate any issues that may arise while ensuring rent is paid.

These wraparound supports, “that’s the ticket,” Hennenfent said.

“Some of our clients do have addictions, but many of them do not,” she said.

BrainTrust community support facilitator Amanda McFarlane said the right accommodations are vital in a client’s journey to recovery.

“Recovering from a TBI, a proper diet and sleep are so important,” she said, noting group homes or shelters could be detrimental to some individual recovery strategies.

BrainTrust also tailors plans for individuals with TBIs that consist of appropriate rehabilitation which can equip people with the tools to cope with brain injuries.

Counselling is another important factor that has been integrated into care plans and BrainTrust is consistently advocating for additional funding to supply this support.

Hennenfent said mental health issues affects approximately 90 per cent of people with TBIs.

Depression, post-traumatic stress disorder and anxiety are the three most common mental health issues affecting these clients.

READ MORE: Public forum fails to ease Rutland residents’ frustration over McCurdy house

“If you take a snow globe and shake it up—imagine it’s your brain—all of the flakes are going to fall differently,” McFarlane said.

“It’s the same with brain chemistry. All of those chemicals are going to change.”

Symptoms may present as chronic headaches, difficulty concentrating and dizziness, but often TBIs are undiagnosed and the symptoms are left unexplained and often mistaken for behavioural issues, she said.

“Sometimes people look like they’re drunk, but they’re not. It’s a brain injury,” McFarlane said.

ID cards identifying the TBI and its symptoms is one way BrainTrust is aiding its clients.

Many like to carry the cards, Hennenfent added, because they are tired of explaining themselves.

“The biggest thing our clients have to deal with is that it’s invisible. They say they wish they had a cast on their arm or a cane so the public would show compassion,” Hennenfent said.


@caitleerach
Caitlin.clow@kelownacapnews.com

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

Okanagan Rail Ride gathering steam ahead of inaugural race

The ride is a non-competitive event celebrating the Okanagan Rail Trail

The Who’s iconic rock opera coming to Kelowna

Theatre Kelowna Society celebrates 70th season this fall with Tommy

UBC Okanagan, Lake Country joint community pool not a reality

Lake Country residents want a community pool, survey shows

Kelowna skaters bring home 9 medals from B.C. SummerSkate

The Kelowna Skating Club sent 22 members to the Super Series BC Summerskate event

Goalies seal Penticton Vees win in exhibition game versus Warriors

The Penticton Vees and West Kelowna Warriors in BCHL exhibition action

Down the Rabbit Hole in Kelowna

Down The Rabbit Hole, is a story based on Alice in Wonderland told through dance and acrobatics.

New South Okanagan winery will open its doors soon

Phantom Creek Estates announced its new CEO and winemaker, and completed first phase of construction

B.C. man tells judge he attempted suicide a month before daughters’ murders

Andrew Berry takes stand in his defense for December 2017 deaths of young daughters

‘Plenty of time for a deal’: Teachers’ union expects kids back in school on Sept. 3

BCTF says class size, composition at the heart of the issue

Shuswap’s Rust Valley Restorers team rolling onto Netflix

Mike and Connor Hall, Avery Shoaf see Tappen-based television show expand to streaming service

Province funds new shuttle buses for 13 B.C. senior centres

Activity, socializing helps maintain health, Adrian Dix says

Musaic Vocal Ensemble seeks additional voices

Summerland-based choir has performed for past 25 years

Thermal imaging cameras eye Salish Sea in hopes of better detecting whales

Cameras installed at BC Ferries’ terminal on Galiano Island, and off southern Gulf Islands

BREAKING: Province approves Surrey police force

Minister of Public Safety Mike Farnworth green-lights city’s municipal police force

Most Read