Laura Fergusson Trust Logo R
Laura Fergusson Trust Logo R

Intensive Residential Rehabilitation

Rehabilitation at Laura Fergusson (RALF)

The Laura Fergusson Trust Canterbury is one of the three providers nationally to offer a specialist traumatic brain injury residential rehabilitation service through the ACC Traumatic Brain Injury Residential Rehabilitation Contract.

Laura Fergusson Trust FacilitiesThe Intensive Residential Rehabilitation Service is a leading provider of evidence-based, post-acute rehabilitation. Our facility at 279 Ilam Road offers a full continuum of services focused around each individual and their family/whānau. We are located within a tranquil, yet convenient, location amid attractive well-kept grounds, within walking distance to the Fendalton Village Complex. We offer free parking on site and bus routes or local amenities are all easily accessible. 

One of the key aims of the rehabilitation unit is that it provides a consistent, supportive, home-like environment for relearning Activities of Daily Living (ADL’s) and essential functions for independent living. Each client has their own bedroom with direct access to gardens and parks. Bathrooms are shared between 2 bedrooms with one en-suite room available. Kitchen, laundry and two lounge areas provide ideal spaces for normal everyday activities to occur. We have a well equipped gym on site and our Jellie Park Recreation & Sport Centre membership provides everyday opportunities to build mobility skills and physical fitness. For cultural religious/spiritual advice and interpreter services we source the appropriate professional provider. 

Our Philosophy

Our residential programme is an essential component of brain injury rehabilitation, providing:

  • A consistent, supportive, home-like environment for relearning Activities of Daily Living (ADLs) and functions that are essential for independent living.
  • An interactive training process that requires the client to practice and perform tasks with repetition and intensity to master life skills.
  • Rehabilitation that takes place in a real world, community-based residential setting and allows for generalization of therapeutically acquired skills relearned during the programme
  • A daily schedule that mirrors your normal routine and re-establishes a normal rhythm of living.
  • An atmosphere that encourages family involvement due to the invaluable support they provide. 
  • Outcomes that are measurable and meaningful.
  • A transition back to home, work and independent living that is seamless. The community rehabilitation teams will be part of the discharge planning process from admission.

Our Team

Our highly-specialised team has extensive experience across medical, nursing and therapy supports services, including:

Key Worker
Key contact in RALF for you and your family/whānau. Coordinates rehabilitation for the client together with their rehabilitation team and the ACC Case Manager.

Rehabilitation Consultant / Medical Specialist (MD)
A specialist (doctor) in rehabilitation medicine with an interest in traumatic brain injury (TBI).

Registered Nurse (RN)
Involved in assessment, planning, intervention and evaluation of each client. Monitors health and wellbeing during your stay.

Occupational Therapist (OT)
Assesses and assists clients to maximise their independence with basic functional activities, e.g. showering, cooking and safety.

Physiotherapist (PT)
Assesses and facilitates movement, functional ability and provides exercises to return you to optimal physical health.

Speech Language Therapist (SLT)
Provides assessment and treatment for swallowing, speech, voice and cognitive-communication disorders.

Clinical Psychologist / Neuropsychologist (PSYC)
Assesses cognitive, emotional and behavioural difficulties. Supports families / loved ones. Develops strategies to help client and families overcome challenges in social, emotional and behavioural functioning.

Social Worker (SW)
An adviser who supports clients and family/whanau with housing, legal, WINZ and financial issues.

Rehabilitation Assistant (RA)
Assists in day-to-day activities, implements the daily rehabilitation timetable and works alongside the rehabilitation team to support goals and strategies.

Advises on nutrition and hydration, both for oral and non-oral feeding (e.g. tube feeding).

The Rehabilitation Pathway

Before coming to RALF, an individual nursing assessment will be undertaken in your current setting, e.g. in the hospital. This is to ensure we are able to provide the exact service you need to help you achieve your individual goals. We encourage family members to visit the unit before arrival. A member of staff will be happy to show you and your relatives around the facilities and to introduce you to key members of staff.

Following your admission, our team will undertake a period of assessment within the first week, following which a goal-orientated rehabilitation plan will be developed, including developing estimated discharge dates. Your rehabilitation plan and goals will be regularly reviewed and documented to make sure your needs continue to be met. We actively encourage you and your family’s involvement, if appropriate, in all aspects of your care. This includes participation in the planning of your rehabilitation, setting of goals, the planning of and involvement in social activities.

Meetings will be held at regular intervals to discuss your progress, your future care, rehabilitation needs and discharge planning. These meetings will be attended by the members of your team directly involved in your care, you, your relatives and may also include your funder, ACC Case Manager or representative, if appropriate. Discharge will never be a surprise, but a carefully planned event with plenty of transitional time allowed before it occurs. ACC has developed Rehabilitation Pathways that reflect our Rehabilitation Timeline in patients who have Usual Length Stays as well as Short Stays.

Common Symptoms of Moderate-to-Severe Traumatic Brain Injury

While each person is individualised in terms of their strengths and challenges following a traumatic brain injury, there are many common symptoms experienced by those recovering from a brain injury. One common symptom is Post-Traumatic Amnesia (PTA). PTA is a stage of recovery that may last for a period of time (e.g., days or weeks). During this time, you or your loved one may have trouble remembering things such as the time of day, conversations, what you did during the day and may have difficulty communicating clearly, be more fatigued or irritated. 

Other common symptoms of brain injury include cognitive/emotional changes, fatigue and tiredness, headaches, increased risk of seizures, dyscoordination, changes in your senses like vision and hearing, and problems with continence (e.g., bowels and bladder). For more information about brain injury and these symptoms, any ACC client that has a moderate to severe traumatic brain injury is eligible to receive one funded copy of the Headspace Book (value over $60). We are happy to provide you a copy if you have not received one during your time in hospital. 

Here are some example resources that can help provide solutions to coping with the symptoms of brain injury:


As well, you may benefit from familiarising yourself with the following links and resources:


Emerging Consciousness

There are varied pathways depending on the severity of the injuries that were sustained. For example, after a traumatic brain injury, some people remain in a prolonged state of diminished consciousness. It is not as deep a level of unconsciousness as a coma, because the person can show some signs that they are aware of the world around them. Our Intensive Residential Rehabilitation Service can provide comprehensive, expert rehabilitation, nursing and medical services to stabilise basic functions (such as nutrition, skin integrity and infection control) as well as provide a structured environment that provides appropriate stimulation for recovery. During rehabilitation, regular meetings will be held to discuss progress and prognosis for recovery.

Services for your family member will focus on:

  • Medical Health: preventing complications; managing pain, incontinence, and seizures; providing appropriate medications.
  • Optimising Nutrition: assuring adequate nutrition and respiratory care; assessing swallowing ability.
  • Managing the Environment: providing a calm, low-stimulation environment with a consistent routine.
  • Stimulation: provide an individualised stimulation programme that systematically provides diverse sensory and cognitive stimulation.
  • Communication: providing devices and support to encourage and stimulate communication processes.
  • Mobility: ensuring proper positioning in bed and wheelchair; maintaining joint flexibility and managing muscle tone.
  • Family Education: creating an inclusive family programme that includes Social Work support and education/emotional support during the rehabilitation pathway.

For more information, please read The Australian National Health and Medical Research Council booklet entitled, ‘Post-Coma Unresponsiveness and Minimally Responsive State: A guide for families and carers of people with profound brain damage.

Frequently Asked Questions

Why is intensive, residential rehabilitation important?

Most traumatic brain injuries cause symptoms or challenging behaviours due to damage to the brain. They might be new behaviours that have come out since the injury or they might be pre-existing behaviours that are now exaggerated and problematic. Helping clients and families to manage these changes is very important. Changes in a loved one after a traumatic brain injury can be very distressing for the client and their family, they make it difficult for the client to engage in rehabilitation and they can make the environment unsafe for everyone. Importantly, if brain-injury related symptoms are not managed it is more difficult to care for the person at home. This puts a heavier burden on family and other caregivers and can make it difficult for the person to get back to doing what they want to do in their life (e.g. work and family life).

Therefore, intensive residential rehabilitation is an important first-step in the recovery process. This provides time and specific rehabilitation to support recovery, as well as training and education to families and friends. The team is able to further understand what supports and services would be beneficial after discharge and liaise with community providers. This ensures a safe, seamless transition home, reducing the burden on family and other caregivers. 

When are Visiting Hours?

Rehabilitation is treated like a 'work day,' therefore the best times to visit are in the afternoon/evening, usually between 4-5pm and 6-8pm. Overnight stays by visitors are not permitted in the unit and we have a compulsary rest time for clients from 1-2pm, so this time is best avoided. However, family inclusion in rehabilitation is a priority so visiting hours and times can be arranged on a case-by-case basis. 

There are freely available visitor carparks near the main entrance. For the safety of our visitors, we ask all visitors to sign the Visitors Book on arrival and to sign out again on leaving. In the event of a fire, staff will instruct visitors on our building evacuation policy.

How long does Rehabilitation last?

Each rehabilitation stay is individualised depending on individual and family needs. The Rehabilitation Team uses initial assessment information to compare the severity of the brain injury to similar patients from around Australia and New Zealand to determine average length of stay and expected level of improvement. From these estimates, the Rehabilitatation Team is able to provide an estimated discharge date after the first week at the Rehabilitation Unit. Importantly, this date is only an estimate, with half of clients discharging prior to this date, and half discharging a bit later than this date. It is important to ensure that a seamless discharge plan is created well before discharge; the Rehabilitation Team starts planning discharge from admission to ensure everyone feels supported and well prepared for the transition to the community. Importantly, your rehabilitation will continue after discharge from the unit; please see the Community Rehabilitation Process Information Sheet for more details

Why is the unit locked?

To ensure our clients remain safe at all times, all external doors are swipe card protected. This means that visitors sometimes have to wait at the door until a member of staff is available to let you in or out. We do apologise for the inconvenience this may cause but this simple rule enables us to keep clients safe. 

Can I use my mobile phone or computer?

The Residential Rehabilitation Unit is purposefully a low-stimulus environment. As many have experienced, such as during their hospitalisation, loud and busy environments can worsen symptoms of brain injury, such as fatigue, agitation or headaches. Therefore, for some with more severe brain injuries or those in a state of 'Post-traumatic amnesia,' use of mobile phones or technology is not recommended or permitted in the unit until the person is more oriented to the day, time and their situation. This can be discussed on a case-by-case basis with the rehabilitation team. As these symptoms of brain injury improve, we routinely utilise technology in rehabilitation to help support memory, planning and organisation, for example. 

How to Make a Referral

If you are a health care provider and are interested in making a referral, please contact:

Val Sandston, Unit Manager
M - F, 7:30am - 4:00pm (alternate weeks M - Th)
Tel (03) 351 0201
Fax (03) 351 0205
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.