Brake support standards

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Brake takes very seriously its requirement to meet the needs of people bereaved and seriously injured by road crashes, and to provide the best quality support we can. This page outlines our objective and aims, and the service standards we aim to meet.

If you have used our support services, we welcome your feedback. You can provide feedback using our online form. You can view our complaints policy here.

You can also read our guide to government agency codes and standards, which may be relevant to you in the aftermath of a serious road crash. If you would like help understanding any of these, please contact the Brake helpline on 0808 8000 401 or helpline@brake.org.uk.

Brake's support objective

Brake's support services' objective is to assist the recovery of people bereaved and seriously injured in road crashes to enable them to lead positive, healthy and happy lives into the future. We aim to do this through an effective set of services delivered to people who are often in extreme distress and have profound needs, and also delivered to those who come into contact with them and are able to provide additional support, such as police, nurses, and family members.

Brake's support aims 

  1. To emotionally support people suffering debilitating symptoms of shock due to death or serious injury in order to enable them to feel valued, comforted and safe during a time when they are highly vulnerable.
  2. To provide information to help these people understand and deal with often unfamiliar and complex procedures resulting from a crash, and to problem solve and offer and provide as necessary advocacy relating to practical and procedural difficulties they are facing, in order to reduce the stresses that such issues can place on these people at the worst possible time.
  3. To help people who have been bereaved or seriously injured identify and acknowledge any medium to long term mental or physical symptoms that may occur as a consequence of what has happened and help them to seek appropriate assessments and effective treatment from the NHS and other sources as relevant.

Most people using Brake's support services have a combination of needs relating to two or three of these areas. Different needs emerge in different ways and at different times. Services offered to meet these needs are:

  • Support over the phone or by email from a helpline officer;
  • Information provision through websites and support literature, for adults and children;
  • Information and problem solving over the phone or by email from a helpline officer;
  • Advocacy on procedural issues, through phone liaison and email/written correspondence between a helpline officer and external agencies on behalf of the victim;
  • Support in a victim’s home arranged by a helpline officer who sources a local Support Worker, who is experienced in supporting those bereaved through sudden death;
  • Support over the phone from a Brake volunteer, who has been bereaved in a similar way and has made a good recovery, facilitated by a helpline officer;
  • Exploration, identification, assessment and treatment of on-going mental and physical symptoms suffered by the victim due to the sudden bereavement, through liaison between the person, the helpline officer, the NHS and other agencies.

Brake’s support literature standards

Brake has been producing support literature for people bereaved and injured in road crashes and their carers and supporting these people through our helpline and associated services for many years to great acclaim. To deliver high quality, accessible services that are relevant, appropriate and useful for bereaved and injured crash victims, Brake adheres to the below standards.

Brake support literature: 

1. is written in plain, simple, concise English, so it is as easy to understand as possible.

2. is objective; Brake does not express subjective opinion through its support literature.

3. provides information and advice, so that service users can make informed choices, rather than instructing and leading service users towards a particular course of action.

4. is checked and updated regularly, in consultation with relevant experts, so the content is as accurate and up-to-date as possible, within the constraints of our funding.

5. covers a comprehensive range of topics that are relevant to the type of service user at which it is aimed, while also being as concise as possible.

6. is distributed as widely as possible to the type of service user it is aimed at, within the constraints of our funding, and made as accessible as possible to those who would benefit from it, including being available on our website.

7. is available in alternative formats as much as possible, within the constraints of our funding. Most notably all information in Brake’s literature is available over the phone (via Brake's helpline). Some literature is available in different languages although this is subject to funding availability.

8. is presented in a professional, high-quality manner, which acknowledges the way the literature is used, to support accessibility and ease of use, including quality design and materials, and use of correct language.

To ensure these service standards are met, Brake maintains internal protocols relating to the above aspects of service delivery, trains staff in these protocols, and monitors output to ensure these standards are complied with. Brake also works to maintain appropriate funding levels and pursues funding as far in advance as possible to enable delivery against these standards, although sometimes we are constrained by a lack, restriction or withdrawal of funds, or uncertainty about future funding. 

Brake's helpline standards

Brake operates a helpline contacted by hundreds of people every year who have been affected by a road death or serious injury, and professionals who work with and care for these families.

The aims of the helpline are to:

1. Provide comfort and support in many people's darkest hour;
2. Assist understanding of procedures and practical issues and provide information to aid informed choices;
3. Help to resolve difficulties and problems and by taking action on a caller's behalf;
4. Provide face to face access, where appropriate and where possible, to a community-based Support Worker;
5. Provide over the phone access, where appropriate and where possible, to a trained Brake volunteer who has been through a similar experience and who can offer comfort and support;
6. Help people identify any ongoing trauma symptoms from which they are suffering and access assessment and treatment and other forms of support to alleviate these symptoms;
7. Provide support and information to professionals working with, and people caring for, road crash victims.

Service standards the helpline adheres to:

1. Helpline officers will respond to callers who leave an answerphone message or email helpline@brake.org.uk within 24 hours (Monday-Friday) of their message unless otherwise stated.

2. Helpline officers will use careful listening and straightforward questioning to identify individual callers' needs, so the support provided can be tailored to these needs, while respecting a caller's right to say as much or as little as they choose.

3. Helpline officers will use plain English and the use of additional tools such as support literature to aid understanding of information being provided.

4. Helpline officers will put the caller's needs at the heart of their work, prioritising these needs at all times, in line with the aims of Brake’s support services.

5. Helpline officers will explain clearly the services available and the limitations of those services, so service users understand what is and isn’t available.

6. Helpline officers are paid professionals, experienced in helping people in distress and trained in the needs of victims of road death and injury. Support Workers deployed by the helpline, although not employed by Brake and responsible to their own employer, are required to sign up to a Brake Agreement outlining professional standards required.

7. Helpline officers work to a strict confidentiality and data protection protocol. This requires the helpline to maintain the confidentiality of any caller unless a caller agrees to particular information sharing in order to enable advocacy on the caller’s behalf, or unless there are extreme concerns relating to their immediate safety. Copies of Brake's support service policies on confidentiality and vulnerable callers can be obtained by emailing generalmanager@brake.org.uk

To ensure these service standards are met, Brake maintains internal protocols relating to the above aspects of service delivery, trains staff in these protocols, and monitors output to ensure these standards are complied with.

Read our helpline specification

If you have used our support services, we welcome your feedback. You can provide feedback using our online form. You can view our complaints policy here

You can also read our guide to government agency codes and standards.