Today, we launched an independent evaluation report into our service; Acquired Brain Injury (ABI) Choices. ABI Choices is a specialist brain injury service offering an Adult Training and Rehabilitation programme regionally. The service was commissioned and funded by the Strategic Planning and Performance Group since 2019.

Elaine Armstrong, CEO, opened the launch highlighting that the ABI Choices service aims to engage individuals with brain injury in local community-based activities, promoting community involvement, to develop personal capacity, resilience, health, and well-being across Northern Ireland. 

Elaine introduced Ann Marie Fox, Commissioner at Strategic Performance Planning Group who said;

“I am pleased to attend today to hear more about the evaluation of the service and to understand further its effectiveness in supporting people living with brain injury”.

Carers also benefit from ABI Choices and were hugely positive towards the service, staff and activities provided. Carers highlighted that they appreciated the person-centred approach, which they believe contributed to increased confidence, independence, and sociability in those they care for.

This was endorsed further when Susan Soutar spoke of her and her daughters experience of the service. Commenting on the significant opportunities her daughter was able to engage in and the wider community activities catered to her daughters’ interests and needs. Susan added that; 

"Cedar has a warm family feel atmosphere and provides opportunities to engage in social and inclusion-based activities and develops service users' independence

To independently evaluate the extent to which ABI Choices met the service objectives, an independent organisation, Ulster University led by Dr. Niamh Kennedy, were commissioned to conduct an evaluation. The overarching aim was to assess and evidence the impact of ABI Choices on adults living with ABI in Northern Ireland and to establish that ABI Choices met the service objectives. People that contributed to this evaluation included current service users, past service users, informal carers, ABI Staff, and external stakeholders.

This service provision contract had four key objectives and several requirements, these service provisions were evaluated, and an assessment undertaken to outline performance and whether or not the objectives have been met. The findings were overwhelming positive and indicated the success made against the service objectives.

1: To provide people with ABI with the opportunity to access a range of training and education opportunities

86% felt it changed their ability to participate in education or training

87% of carers felt ABI choices changed their ability to take part in education

2: To deliver 22,775 training hours each annum for a minimum of 65 individuals 

105% of training hours achieved by end of 2022 with an average of 87 individuals.

3: To promote Independence and personal choice by the setting of personal goals 

67% felt that the service supported independence

98% reported and acknowledged they had an action plan and set personal goals.

4: To promote a culture of Service User and Stakeholder involvement 

All service users had an opportunity to feedback through action plan review an annual satisfaction survey various forums.

A past service user said, Invaluable service individualised to each person and their achievements

Niamh concluded by saying, "ABI Choices is undoubtedly an exceptional service"

The evaluation report firmly asserts that ABI Choices has met the objectives of the service provision.

Rosie McNaughton, Director of Employability and Community Inclusion concluded the day by summarizing;

“It is extremely encouraging that the report findings demonstrate that the service is meeting the needs of service users and fulfilling the objectives of the service specification. Let us keep this report in mind and use it as a tool to drive positive change and progress towards ABI Choices and those whom it supports”.

The report and a promotional video of ABI Choices were launched and housed on our website

Click the link to view our report ABI Choices Services Evaluation Summary Report 2023