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Latest News 2 May 2018

Our Research. Blesma Families Project

After 18 months of research, the results of a study into Members and their families are almost ready to be revealed.

The ground-breaking Blesma Families Project is a unique research initiative that has, for the past 18 months, been gathering information on how veterans and their families cope with limb loss. A total of 72 people from Blesma Members’ families have been interviewed or surveyed to create a comprehensive understanding of their prime issues and needs. 

The director of the Institute, Matt Fossey,  wrote a paper on the role of the family in helping to care for veterans, and we discovered that there was very little recognition of the role of the family in regard to limb loss, or to care generally.

Blesma’s aim is to look after the whole family, not just the veteran, it made sense to find out more about what the family would like or require; how they support the veteran and what kind of help they need to do that.

Hilary Engward, Senior Research Fellow

The project, which was conducted by Anglia Ruskin University's Veterans and Families Institute after Heather Nicholson, Blesma’s Director of Independence and Wellbeing, had spoken to Members who had told her that the family’s voice was not being heard, so she and Matt Fossey, the Director of the University's Veteran's and Families Institute , wrote a plan for the study which was approved and funded by the Forces in Mind Trust. Through this we discovered that there was very little recognition of the role of the family in regard to limb loss , or to care generally.

With Blesma's aim to look after the whole family , not just the veteran , it made sense to find out more about the what the family need. The project was approached in three distinct phases: initial interviews were followed by a more detailed survey and, finally, interviews were conducted over the telephone.

We started without preconceptions , listening to the veterans and their families because they are the ones with the lived experiences , and so have the best ideas about how they would like to be helped .

Kristina Fleuty , Research Assistant , Anglia Ruskin University

Hilary Engward , Senior Research Fellow at the university tells us : "In the past research has focused on the veterans , not the people around them , to a large extent the family has been neglected. There were so many interesting findings - particularly the realisation that there is a lot of wrap around care for the patient but very little for the carer . It quickly became apparent that although lots of support groups , and friends and family may ask the veteran how they are getting on, very few people were asking their carer, while the veteran may be focused on rehab their carer may be experiencing anxiety about how they will cope and manage as carer.

We are recommending that the family is more involved with the rehab process so they can help the veteran move forward  and that the  Member and carer should be looked at separately as well as collectively . We are suggesting a Living with Limb Loss Support Model. The project will help Blesma design its services in future and could also have a use across the NHS and MoD care spectrums. "

The full findings of the Blesma Families project study will report back with its findings at the 2018 Members’ Weekend and be published in the Summer Issue of Blesma Magazine.

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The caring roles that partners and spouses take on, particularly in the home, which may not be so visible to the outside world.

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