In this episode of Brain Injury Insider, host Michael Kaplen discusses the important ethical considerations that attorneys and other professionals must keep in mind when working with brain injury survivors.
Today, I’d like to speak with you about ethical considerations that attorneys and other professionals working with brain injury survivors must keep in mind.
Every professional working with brain injury survivors must understand that they are coming to you because they have cognitive problems, emotional issues, behavioral issues and perhaps even physical issues.
And each one of them needs to be treated with compassion, dignity and respect.
They might have problems that impede a good relationship.
They might have cognitive impairments that causes them to have concentration problems, or memory problems.
They may have physical symptoms such as headaches or sensitivity to bright lights or loud noises.
They may have behavioral problems such as disinhibition that causes them to say inappropriate things or act in an inappropriate way.
They might have emotional issues where they cry or laugh at inappropriate times.
They may have physical problems such as headaches that impede proper communication.
Indeed, they might even have speech problems.
So how does an attorney, or a professional in another field, properly deal with these individuals to maintain a good working relationship.
Let me offer you some suggestions.
First, understand that a meeting with a brain injury client is like a meeting with no other type of client.
Perhaps not much might be accomplished on any one particular meeting.
Perhaps your client will be frustrated.
Perhaps you, as the attorney or care professional, might be frustrated.
The brain injury survivor may have difficulties keeping up with a fast-paced conversation.
They may respond slowly to questions that you ask of them.
They might have slowed reading or writing abilities.
So here’s some advice on what you can do to improve that relationship.
First, schedule additional time for meeting with a brain injury survivor.
Second, slow down your conversation.
Third, avoid time pressure meetings.
Understand that you need to just focus on one particular problem at a time in a meeting with a brain injury survivor.
Rephrase and repeat what you have said to make sure that that individual understands and comprehends the information that you intend to impart to them.
And most importantly, ask for feedback to make sure that they get it.
Often it helps to put the information that you are trying to impart in writing.
It makes sense to take frequent breaks because of the cognitive fatigue that that individual might be suffering from.
If the information that you are intending to discuss is not highly sensitive or confidential it makes sense to ask them to bring someone with them, so that when they leave, they can go back to that individual and discuss the meeting that they just attended.
Understand, with brain injury survivors not every individual is right for every attorney. Nor are they right for every medical professional.
It is important to understand your own limitations and instruct your staff on how to deal with brain injury survivors.
They are not to be laughed at.
They are not to be frowned upon.
You are not to throw your hands up in disgust, or disarray.
But you as well as your staff, must understand that compassion and dignity is the rule of the day.