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Study to help improve financial well-being of Manitobans with cognitive issues

November 12, 2020 — 

Financial empowerment for Manitobans living with brain injuries is the focus of a new study by a researcher at the College of Rehabilitation Sciences, Rady Faculty of Health Sciences that recently received a boost in government funding.

Occupational Therapy assistant professor Lisa Engel, who joined the college in 2019, specializes in research on the financial well-being of people living with chronic health conditions. She and her team received $382,204 for three years for the project, funded in part by Government of Canada’s Social Development Partnerships Program – Disability component, in partnership with the Manitoba Brain Injury Association (MBIA).

“We have a three-year plan of four interrelated studies, the first year exploring people living with brain injury in Manitoba, what’s facilitating their ability to be financially capable and what the barriers are,” Engel said.

Part of the first year involves a photovoice study, in which up to 20 participants who live with brain injury will document their financial activities using digital cameras.

Lisa Engel

Lisa Engel (2019)

Engel said COVID-19 has led to some challenges for the project such as safely delivering cameras to participants who don’t already have one, participants who are not able to complete interviews online, or providing adaptive equipment if needed.

“That could require us to use full PPE and do very quick set-ups and teach participants from a social distance, showing them how the equipment works and assessing if it meets their needs,” she said. “We also have to be aware that our financial lives have changed with COVID, and we don’t know how permanent those changes are.”

Recruitment for the project, she said, will be done through MBIA.

“The association’s executive director contacted me and said some of their members struggle because there’s not a lot of financial empowerment programs that are tailored to meeting the informational and learning or cognitive needs of people living with brain injury,” Engel said.

“It’s about using photos as a medium to gain information, but also to share that information later. The plan is to wrap up this stage of the project with a public photo viewing event, hopefully in-person next year depending on COVID.”

Engel hopes that participants will have improved savings goals and financial well-being measures by the end of the three-year project, which will include the development of a financial empowerment program, analysis and evaluation.

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