Better Care

Brain injury rehab reward for work and play

Supporting people with acquired brain injury to regain the skills needed to lead independent lives is the core mission of the Moor Green outpatient neuro-rehabilitation unit.

Helping people resume employment – or find alternative activities if more appropriate – is a key part of that approach.

Anisa Jamal - Mondelēz

Anisa was working in an executive role for Mondelēz (the international holding company for Cadbury) when she was diagnosed with a brain tumour.

Anisa Jamal at Moor Green
Anisa with Vicky (left) and Beverley (right).

She moved from Birmingham to London to be close to her parents while she underwent surgery and radiotherapy treatment. Declared fit for work after a year of treatment, she returned to Birmingham but struggled with tasks that involved planning and organisational skills. The injury had altered her communication style and made her more impulsive in her behaviour. She also felt very fatigued and anxious.

The Mondelēz occupational health service was eventually signposted to Moor Green where Anisa accessed interdisciplinary therapy including group work such as physiotherapy, managing fatigue, planning and organising, and cognitive strategies.

Meanwhile, Anisa’s employers were given brain injury education and strategies to support her return to employment. A bespoke return-to-work plan was established, involving a three-month gradual return to assess her skills and strengths and the impact of the injury.

Occupational therapist Vicky Betts said: “Returning to work was part of the rehab programme and involved spending reduced hours at the workplace as well as attending Moor Green for rehab to address the neuro-fatigue, cognitive difficulties and anxiety.”


Beverley Harrison-Barker, UK clinical lead for occupational health at Mondelēz International (Cadbury) said: “We’re one of the biggest employers in the UK, so value that capacity to be flexible in order to retain Anisa’s experience and skills.

“I recognised that it was vital to have brain injury expertise as well as someone to lead on how to approach, monitor and evaluate the situation. We all had roles in the process.”

Vicky added: “Both Anisa and her employer are able to refer back into our outpatient brain injury services for continued vocational support if needed in the future.”

Anisa said: “I needed unique recovery goals that linked to my job, not a one-size fits all approach. I feel very fortunate that Moor Green and Mondelez formed this partnership to support me. I don’t think I’d have made it back to work otherwise.”

Elizabeth Thomas at Moor Green
Elizabeth (centre) with Paul and some of the Moor Green team.

Elizabeth Thomas - Walsall Council

Elizabeth suffered brain swelling after surgery to remove a tumour. As with many patients post-brain injury, she experienced a range of symptoms including fatigue, reduced fine motor skills, short-term memory impairment and difficulties with communication.

But thanks to a personal therapeutic programme including physiotherapy, occupational therapy, speech and language therapy and psychology, she was able to return to her job in the traffic department at Walsall Council.

Vicky Betts said: “The core goal of Elizabeth’s rehab programme was returning to work. She works in a very large open plan office and wanted to be able to confidently mobilise around each department independently.

“Her physiotherapy and psychology programme involved practicing mobilising in various environments while maintaining a strategy of distraction to reduce her anxiety levels.”

Elizabeth said the support of her employer and the Moor Green team were instrumental in the success of her rehabilitation.

“I was so glad the council supported me all the way,” she said. “The challenge of getting back to work became part of my rehab. I can’t believe I made such a recovery – it’s so lovely to be valued by an employer, which made all the difference.

Elizabeth’s manager, Paul Leighton, said: “I wasn’t sure what support was available for Elizabeth and was really looking for help to find the best way forward. Then we found the wonderful team at Moor Green.

“We’ve seen a real step change with Elizabeth, who is now developing a project to replace all street lighting within Walsall with energy-efficient LED technology that will potentially save the authority approximately £1 million a year in energy costs.

“So, as an employer, we’re reaping the benefit of the partnership approach.”

Shelagh Morris at Moor Green
Shelagh (centre) with the Moor Green team.

Moor Green recently welcomed Shelagh Morris, deputy chief allied health professions officer at NHS England (pictured, centre) to the unit to meet staff and listen to the stories of some of the people who have been supported in their efforts to continue in employment after suffering brain injury.

After a guided tour and a series of presentations from clinicians, clients and some of their employers, Shelagh said: “This activity reminded me very much of my first job as an occupational therapist in mental health where the emphasis was all about supporting people to live independently in the community.

"And later, working in learning disability services, the drive was to support people to live in shared residential accommodation, trying to build up skills and confidence and potential employability if possible.

“I’m very impressed and grateful to the team at Moor Green for this insight into their work, which has given me a lot to take back to inform the work we’re doing on policy, commissioning and implementation.”