Bringing the Brain Trust Online

ECF grant enables Brain Care Centre to provide hundreds of clients with virtual access to counselling, skills training, occupational therapy and more

When a stroke left Rawle Teekah with limited mobility in 2015, Edmonton’s Brain Care Centre (BCC) was there to help.

“I don’t know what I would do without the Brain Care Centre,” says Teekah. “They’re like a big support buddy for me.”

The BCC provides programs and services to people living with acquired brain injuries. The services include life-skill classes, support groups, occupational therapy, device-training and more.

However, BCC’s services were put into jeopardy when COVID-19 hit.

Like many organizations, the BCC needed to find a way to deliver its services remotely. But the cost of IT equipment was a problem. To make things worse, the pandemic also forced the centre to cancel a major fundraising event. It was a dire situation. Without funding, BCC would have to cancel programs that clients like Teekah use daily.

“It’s really difficult to move everything and all the securities that you have built into your office so that all those exist from home as well,” says Ashley Brosda, Executive Director of BCC. “We deal with sensitive client information, so we have to make sure everything is extremely secure and that we have all the proper firewalls.”

Fortunately, Edmonton Community Foundation (ECF) was there to help. On April 9, ECF provided a $5,000 grant to BCC through its COVID-19 Rapid Response Fund.

“The Brain Care Centre helps hundreds of Edmontonians access key programs to improve their quality of life,” Craig Stumpf-Allen, ECF’s Director of Grants and Community Engagement says. “IT equipment isn’t ‘sexy’ but we recognize it is essential for them to do their important work.”

Though $5,000 may not sound like a lot, it was vital for the BCC to continue its work.

“This really allowed us to … keep our staff employed, but also continue to serve our community and be able to offer that support to the clients,” says Brosda.

BCC purchased new software and a phone system that allows its staff to work securely and remotely. The grant also paid to convert all appointments and programming to online platforms. Since then, BCC has served more than 350 clients through the remote technology. The centre is also able to accept new referrals during the pandemic.

“Being able to maintain our operation has been a big success,” says Brosda. “To have someone to talk to when you’re feeling alone, anxious, depressed, or to have a counsellor that is accessible over the phone is really important.”

For Teekah and many other clients, virtual appointments bring the support of BCC right to their homes.

“We’re so lucky to have Brain Care Centre in Edmonton,” says Teekah. “That organization provides such positive supports to the Edmonton community and should be supported in many different ways.”

Learn more about ECF’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic here.