Support for family members

When a family member has a spinal cord injury, it can be difficult to acknowledge and accept that their injury will affect you too.

You might find it difficult to express and share how you have been affected by these events, especially to your loved one with the injury. Overwhelming feelings of guilt, helplessness, confusion and isolation are very common.  It can also be difficult to talk to friends and other family members and there can be a sense of not wishing to burden others.

If you are a parent, partner, child or any other family member of a person with a spinal cord injury, we are here if you want to talk.  The family support team are trained to listen, offer advice and support you to make positive changes in your life. Our services are available to all family members – regardless of where your loved one is receiving their rehabilitation – and at any time you need them.

Relatives’ days

Relatives’ days take place quarterly in spinal centres and are open to anyone who has a newly injured family member with a spinal cord injury.  At these sessions, you will learn all about spinal cord injury and how it will affect you and your family member’s life moving forward.  If you would like to come along, just register with your local spinal centre (there will be posters in the centre advising you of the next session), or email our family support team or call us on 020 8875 1805.

At our Back Up relatives’ days, you will meet and hear from our volunteers who also have a family member with a spinal cord injury.  Working alongside the healthcare professionals, the family volunteers can give you a ‘real life’ picture of living with a spinal cord injury, useful information, and advice from their own personal experiences.

There is also an opportunity to ask questions and talk in a safe and welcoming environment.  You will learn about spinal cord injury, bladder and bowel care, pain and fatigue management, psychological wellbeing, relationships and intimacy, the discharge process, and all about the different services Back Up and other charities provide.

“It was one of the times when he felt most transformed and understood through this whole process. He remembers everything he [the Back Up volunteer] said even now and I, speaking as his wife, am so glad he went along.” (Partner of a family member with a spinal cord injury)

With your consent, you will then be contacted by our family outreach and support coordinator who also has a family member with a spinal cord injury.  The aim is to check in with you regularly – both during your family member’s time as an inpatient and once you and your loved one are home.

Our family support service is here for all family members of people with a spinal cord injury – regardless of where your loved one is receiving their rehabilitation.

Back Up also provides vital support for families through our mentoring service and our young people’s services.

Richard's story

When spinal cord injury first entered our lives, I didn’t want to speak to anyone. I imagine that’s how a lot of people feel. But soon I had to accept that this was affecting me, whether I wanted to admit it or not. It is so easy for family members to be overlooked. It is easy to slip into loneliness and isolation. But that isn’t how it has to be.

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You can call our family outreach service on 020 8875 1805 between 9am-5pm or send them an email.

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