For the last 26 years, the Transitional Living Centre (TLC) in Thornbury has been home to more than 500 patients recovering from Traumatic or Acquired Brain Injury. Being the only community-based program of its kind in Victoria, Epworth Rehabilitation provides the residents with support and care, so they have the strength, confidence and skills to participate in everyday life.
Often the everyday skills that are re-learned include using public transport; food shopping; budgeting; parenting and living independently - with either minimal or no requirements for additional care.
This year, three TLC staff received a Keith Irving Scholarship which will allow them to tour similar centres in NSW. Kane Fitzpatrick, along with his colleagues Zoe McMhon and Lisa Johnston, said it is the first time staff from TLC have received this award.
"We were completely surprised and excited. To be financially supported to learn and create long-lasting change in how we deliver services to our clients, is such a great opportunity and would not be possible without the generosity of the Epworth Medical Foundation Donors and Sponsors," Mr Fitzpatrick said.
"Because there are no other facilities like this in Victoria, learning from the larger centres in NSW is important. They have regular in-services; they share information and sources; they provide educational opportunities and compete research projects together.
"We'd like to learn from their day-to-day practices and operations, intervention models; (such as aggression management and lone-worker safety); admission and discharge processes.
"We are hoping to spend two days in March at Liverpool Hospital in Sydney and then visit a TLC in Newcastle. We'll be looking at new strategies for residents with complex behaviours and needs. We also want to learn about the completion and documentation around goal setting, and the involvement of families and significant others into their therapy practices.
"In addition, we hope to develop further networking opportunities with NSW TLC therapists with the potential to participate in joint research projects in future," Mr Fitzpatrick said.
"The Epworth Scholarship Program is in its ninth year and only made possible by the generous support from Epworth Donors and Sponsors. This year 135 scholarships have been awarded to staff across Epworth's ten sites.
The TLC was founded in 1989 with a grant from the Keilor Rotary Club and assistance from the Salvation Army. Epworth Rehabilitation Medical Director John Olver had long wanted a community alternative for hospital patients to be support to regain independence and has been instrumental in its success since its inception. The centre is supported by a skilled specialist team compromising of occupational therapists, social workers, psychologists and allied health assistants who help instil independence to its residents.