‘Stroke survivors not getting enough help’

Rita Lewis
Rita Lewis

STROKE survivors in 1066 Country believe they are being denied the chance to recover because of a lack of post-hospital care, according to a report published this week.

The Stroke Association, in its report, Struggling to recover, said 31 per cent of survivors from the south east had not been assessed for their specific needs, more than half of the 2,200 surveyed had received only one assessment in the last three years and only 37 per cent were given a proper care plan.

Karen Turner, from St Leonards, echoed the findings, as her 78-year-old mother, Rita Lewis, suffered a stroke in March last year and said she had little help after leaving hospital.

She said: “Before her stroke, my mum was very active in looking after her grandchild who has cerebral palsy, her brother who has chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, and my stepfather, who is registered blind. She regularly went shopping and had a passion for car boot sales where she collected glass and pottery.

“Her stroke took away her movement in her left hand and leg. While in hospital she got pneumonia twice and had a heart attack. After 18 weeks in hospital she opted to go home which is where it all fell down.”

Karen said her mum had only received three visits from a physiotherapist in almost a year.

She added: “They offered her minimal support and encouragement even though we could see she was making improvement. The GP only saw her once during this period because she was housebound. It was only when the Stroke Association got involved in March that things began to change and Brian, their local coordinator helped us pull services together and plan what she needs. He questioned the care my mum received and the services started to kick in which helped a lot.

“But a year on since her stroke my mum still isn’t able to leave the house because she’s dependent on a wheelchair which cannot fit through her front door. She also hasn’t been provided with a shower chair so that she can wash without soaking her only wheelchair.”

Karen added that her mum saw her life as ‘living hell’ before the Stroke Association became involved and often asked if she stopped taking medication would that help her to die.

She said: “Brian gave my mum hope. We know that it’s unlikely that she’ll walk again but all I want is to be able to take my mum along the seafront, eat fish and chips and allow her to choose her own clothes from the Old Town where she used to shop.”

Jon Barrick, chief executive at the Stroke Association, said: “More people than ever are surviving a stroke and that’s a welcome improvement.

“But many stroke survivors tell us that after all the effort to save their lives they then feel abandoned when they return home. The NHS and local authorities are failing in their responsibilities to provide appropriate and timely support to stroke survivors and their families, and the growing evidence of cuts for people currently getting services is very worrying.”

A spokesman for Hastings and Rother Primary Care Trust (PCT) said: “The local NHS and local authorities fund community stroke services, including from the Stroke Association itself, to prevent the sort of problems identified in the association’s survey and report.

“Community stroke services are in place to support patients, their families and carers with such issues as planning for future care needs, communication and emotional support, exercise, and accessing benefits.

“Contracts for these services are monitored. If any patient, family member or carer has a concern about care and treatment following a stroke, they should contact their local NHS patient advice and liaison service via www.sussex.nhs.uk/nhs-sussex-patient-advice-and-liaison-services.”