A Review of ABIL’s Conference and Webinars throughout 2020 – a challenging year!

A Review of ABIL’s Conference and Webinars throughout 2020 – a challenging year!

Tony Hart – Chair of ABIL.

We began the ABIL Conference season in fine fettle with our AGM and Conference on 10 March. Unbeknown to us at the time, this was to be our first, and last conference of 2020, as Covid jumped into the driving seat of our lives. From then on, a huge percentage of people moved from commuting to their place of work to working remotely from home. We had no idea at that point how long this might be for, but as the months ticked by and the daily news became gloomier, it was apparent Covid-19 was going nowhere fast.

However, the ABIL Committee continued to meet and Zoom quickly became an important member of the team! We decided that if conferences were out of the equation, and understandably they were, we still wanted to provide informative and interesting presentations to the many people who attend our events. Unsurprisingly, webinars emerged as the best way forward to enable us to do this. Two webinars were broadcast in June, followed by another in October and our final one in December and information on these are all listed below.

On behalf of ABIL I would like to say a huge thank you to all the presenters. I would also like to thank Irwin Mitchell for their unwavering support and commitment to ABIL which has enabled us to continue with our work, albeit in a slightly different way! Thank you also to everyone who has attended our events and for your lovely feedback.

We look forward to 2021 with cautious optimism and hope we will all be able to meet in person again in the very near future. Until then, we would like to wish you all a very Merry Christmas. Stay Safe and Well.


10 March 2020 Conference – ‘The Unspoken Deficits after Brain Injury’ (and AGM)

 Sally de la Fontaine, Physiotherapist and founder of Milestones Neuro-rehabilitation Clinic

Vestibular difficulties and interventions for the community

Alex Heaps, Occupational Therapist, Associate of Laura Slader Ltd

Fatigue Management following Brain Injury

Dr Sylvia Taylor-Goh, Consultant Speech and Language Therapist

Relational Communication Practice, Social Communication and Cognitive Communication Disorder

Amy Stephens, Advanced Ayres Sensory Integration Practitioner & Speech and Language therapist

Sensory Integration, Tinnitus, loss of smell and taste

Clare Cahill, Occupational Therapist and Case Manager, Harrisons Associates

Challenges in the community from a case manager perspective

This conference focused on residual effects that are not always known or recognised and sometimes not acknowledged as important as some of the more familiar and regularly spoken about difficulties. A wonderful line-up of presenters provided a very interesting afternoon.

At the AGM – we welcomed Su-Lin Yii, Clinical Neuropsychologist, Royal Hospital for Neuro-disability to the ABIL Executive Committee, and said farewell to and thanked Patti Simonson and Marcus Van Hagen for their contributions to the work of ABIL. Patti in particular, for her commitment to ABIL since its inception in 2007

1 June 2020 Webinar – ‘Living with Brain Injury during Covid-19’

Dr Jenny Brooks, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Dr Keith Jenkins, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist

Presenting and sharing ideas on managing feelings of isolation, where and how to seek support if you are worried about your mood, how to still have structure and routine, how to ensure a good sleep pattern and how to follow government guidelines. An important and timely webinar as the pandemic took a grip and many psychological concerns began to surface. This was aimed at those affected by acquired brain injury and Jenny and Keith provided valuable insight and practical suggestions.

8 June 2020 Webinar -‘It’s Okay to no feel Okay’

Dr Jenny Brooks, Consultant Clinical Psychologist and Dr Keith Jenkins, Consultant Clinical Neuropsychologist

Presenting on the implications and ideas for supporting staff working with people living with brain injury during the Coronavirus Pandemic. Sharing ideas on what psychological reactions are triggered by the Covid-19 Pandemic, coping strategies, what the future might hold, useful contacts and resources. Following on from the successful and well received webinar the week before, this one focused on people working with those affected by brain injury. A very helpful webinar with lots to consider.

15 October 2020 Webinar – ‘How to look after yourself and enjoy life whilst caring’.

Sara Challice, founder of www.whocares4carers.com and best selling author of ‘Who Cares’? With a focus on carers, Sara presented on how to develop a strategy for caring for oneself while caring for a close relative, based upon her own experience of caring for her husband for 13 years. This was a very honest and moving account of the impact and challenges of caring for a loved one. Sara spoke in depth about the importance of looking after oneself, how frequently this does not happen, and provided practical suggestions to address this.

1st December Webinar – ‘Art and Music Therapy in a Pandemic’

Elizabeth Nightingale, Neuro Services Lead, Chiltern Music and Shaun Caton, Art Curator and Programme Manager, Homerton Hospital

In the run up to the festive season, we welcomed Elizabeth and Shaun (the latter via pre-recorded film), presenting on the benefits of art and music therapy in a pandemic. Elizabeth’s presentation ‘Don’t Stop the Beat: Neurologic Music therapy in a Pandemic’ and Shaun’s short film, underpinning this perfectly. This webinar took us on a fascinating and inspirational journey, which was both insightful and practical. Finishing the webinar with a sing-along to Elizabeth’s humorous Covid related song ‘Mingle All The Way’, it was a great way to end what has been a phenomenally challenging year.

Links to the presentations and related information (including recordings) for all the webinars can be found HERE