Meet our Researchers - Finding the Answers that help ISCRR make a difference

MEET... Libby Callaway

Libby has worked in many settings with people who have an acquired brain injury and now also conducts research about accommodation, support and rehabilitation services for people with acquired disabilities and their families. Libby is currently reviewing the impact of current models of shared supported accommodation on quality of life for people with acquired brain injury, particularly younger people living in less appropriate environments, such as nursing homes.

TITLE: Researcher
DEPARTMENT: Occupational Therapy, School of Primary Health Care
FACULTY: Faculty of Medicine, Nursing and Health Sciences.

Libby Callaway is one of over 80 researchers who make up the ISCRR research network.

How long have you worked for Monash University? Since 2006.

Where were you based prior to starting at Monash University?I have worked in my private practice, Neuroskills, in community settings with people with severe ABI since 1999. Prior to that, I worked in a trauma centre in Boston in the USA. In addition to my role at Monash University, I also work in a research role with the Summer Foundation Ltd, a not-for-profit organisation focused on the issue of younger people living in nursing homes - www.summerfoundation.org.au

What attracted you to this type of research?The capacity to undertake research that will benefit people with acquired disabilities and their families. Also, the chance that your research may influence policy and practice in the delivery of accommodation, support and rehabilitation services to people who return to community living after acquiring a disability.

What do you like best about your role?I feel very fortunate to maintain a mix of clinical and research work. It is a privilege to meet people living with brain injury, and their families, and talk to them about what has been important in rebuilding their lives following an acquired disability, and the facilitators and barriers to returning to life roles and activities that are personally meaningful to them.

First job?My first occupational therapy role was at Ivanhoe Manor Private Rehabilitation Hospital, where I commenced in 1994.

Worst job?I was employed casually at a supermarket delicatessen during high school and university. The smell of processed meats and threading of raw chickens onto rotisserie rods is not something I miss.

What research/projects are you currently working on and what does it involve?Through a Neurotrauma Research Institute Clinical Fellowship, Di Winkler, Sue Sloan and I are working on a systematic review of literature on models of shared, supported accommodation for people with traumatic brain injury. ISCRR have contributed to funding of this review. It has two main aims: 1) To describe the characteristics of models of shared supported accommodation for people with TBI internationally and 2) To assess the effects of models for supported accommodation on outcomes of people with TBI. The mentoring I have received from Veronica Pitt at the NTRI has been invaluable, and this review will provide a comprehensive insight into existing supported accommodation models internationally.

With Di, Sue, Associate Professor Robyn Tate, Associate Professor Mal Hopwood and Sophie Moore, I am working on an ISCRR Development Grant Project on quality of life outcomes of people with TBI living in shared supported accommodation. The findings of this project will be compared with findings from the Victorian Younger People in Residential Aged Care (YPIRAC) Quality of Life Evaluation Di, Sue, Nadine Holgate and I published in July 2012.

Apart from these projects with ISCRR, I have been very involved in the planning and partnership development phase of an innovative housing model for people with disability on the border of the Monash Peninsula Campus. I am also supervising a Monash Occupational Therapy honours student who is examining the lived experience of people with disability who work as Ambassadors in the Building Better Lives Ambassador Program, as well as the experiences of their families - http://www.buildingbetterlives.org.au/ambassadors/. Finally, I am in the process of writing up my PhD on the time use, health and community integration outcomes of people with spinal cord injury who have returned to community living in Victoria.

What was the most fulfilling piece of research you completed?With encouragement from Associate Professor Robyn Tate, Sue, Di and I published a framework for community based practice with people with ABI, called the Community Approach to Participation (CAP) in 2004. We then worked with people with ABI to begin to evaluate changes in support, participation and accommodation over time when people had returned to community living and were receiving the CAP approach (Sloan et al, 2009a; 2009b; Sloan et al, 2012). The opportunity to document changes in levels of paid and informal support, independence, community integration and participation over a number of years with people with ABI was exciting. Although at an individual level we knew it was possible for people to improve their skills and increase valued participation in life roles even many years post injury, it was good to have this evidence documented in a rigorous manner. These research findings have formed the basis of our future work to date.

How is your research benefiting WorkSafe and the TAC?At the moment, we are working with ISCRR to develop an evidence base of existing models of shared supported accommodation and the impact of these on quality of life outcomes for people with ABI, particularly compared with younger people living in less appropriate environments, such as nursing homes. The next step is to start to evaluate new models of housing and support to inform the design of a greater range of options for people with ABI, allowing them increased choice and capacity to improve their independence or participation over time. This program of research will inform TAC scheme design, costs and service delivery in the area of accommodation and support for people with ABI and will lead to an evaluation framework that can be used with this group within community settings longitudinally.

What is your favourite thing to do on the weekend?I have a beautiful family and friends and love to spend time with them.

What is the best piece of advice you've been given, and what would you give?The best piece of advice I've been given is from my parents - "Treat others as you would wish to be treated". I think that is a great piece of advice to give, and an important rule to research, practice and live by.