Why we developed a children’s book for the millions living with serious injury
When a parent or carer experiences a serious injury or medical negligence, it is – understandably – a very worrying time for a child. It can’t be underestimated just how much the practical and emotional challenges which arise from a serious injury or medical negligence might have on their mental health, not just in the short term, but the long term, too.
To begin to understand the true extent of this situation, and to recognise in greater detail how young people are impacted, we undertook quantitative research with parents and carers living with serious injuries following an accident or medical negligence. Additionally, we held focus groups with professional therapists, serious injury specialists and gained first-hand accounts from families and children who have experienced serious injury.
Our research found that an estimated over two and a half million children in the UK are experiencing mental health issues as a result of a parent or carer’s serious injury.
The data and insights revealed that a child may experience upheaval such as missing time in education, moving to a new house to accommodate their parent’s condition, changing school, disruption to usual supervision routines, witnessing their parents separate or divorce, or even being forced to take on carer responsibilities.
On top of the worry for their parent or carer, these major life changes can impact the child’s mental and emotional health and wellbeing. The data shows that, as a result, many suffer from shock, anxiety, angry outbursts and insomnia. Many also develop their own coping strategies to process the impact on their lives. In extreme cases, children are diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder.
This alone is major cause for concern. But we also found that a third of parents and carers living with the effects of a serious injury or medical negligence felt that, at the time of the event, there wasn’t sufficient resources available to help their family cope with the challenges they experienced. Specifically, a quarter said there weren’t enough resources available to explain to their child or children what had happened, or how to process the inevitable changes to their lives.
Over the years, we’ve helped thousands of families to rebuild their lives following serious injury and medical negligence, but we know that there are some wider support services which are lacking. While there’s lots of information available on how a life changing event can impact a child from a scientific point of view, there is very little available to actually guide them through the practical and emotional challenges that will come along the way.
To help families with that challenge, we created Bracky Builds a New Den – the story of a happy dinosaur whose life is turned upside down when a family member suffers a serious injury. It seeks to explore many of the different ways young children could react to their parent or carer experiencing a serious injury, and how – by working together – it’s possible to rebuild lives and find a new normal.
We’ve teamed our book with a series of downloadable activity sheets which are linked to the story. Designed to help young readers cope with the impact of a serious injury in their family, the activities centre on reflections of the past and looking ahead to a brighter future.
As serious injury specialists, our priority is supporting customers with all the associated challenges of serious injury and medical neglect. We extend our service to our customers’ wider family and network, too, because we know that it takes the strength of a community to rebuild lives. Bracky Builds a New Den is just one way we hope to achieve that.