Acuity isn’t only about identifying the type of help an individual needs, however. Acuity also determines the coverage and intensity of this assistance. In other words, it identifies how much and how demanding the support can be.
Coverage refers to the portion of the day or specific times when help is needed. This may be expressed as supervision hours (e.g. up to six hours daily), or for specific events or portions of the day, like during mealtimes or supervision during waking hours only.
Intensity considers the demand of a caregiver’s attention. In hospitals and rehab facilities alike, this is often referred to as a ratio of supporting persons to the number of people they are helping. People with severe injuries may need someone to provide assistance exclusively to them (1:1 support), while others may be safe with an assistant who helps them along with two others at the same time (3:1 support). Intensity also factors in the distance these caregivers can be from their patients; whether that be to stay within an arm’s length at all times, or simply making sure an individual is within their line of sight.
Being familiar with each category of care — and identifying exactly where a patient falls within them — can greatly help when advocating for the correct and necessary support an individual needs. Professional assessments that pinpoint the precise what, when, and how much help a person requires, as well as careful documentation by healthcare providers and caregivers that support these findings, not only improves opportunities for ongoing coverage from funders, but also allows a person the best chance at success and fulfillment in their lifestyle following brain injury.
Martin J. Waalkes, Ph.D., ABPP(rp), CBIS-TDirector of Neuro Rehabilitation
Hope Network Neuro Rehabilitation