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New service is lifeline for stroke survivors during pandemic

12:00am | & Health

Hundreds of stroke survivors have received personal, specialised care thanks to a new service set up during the coronavirus pandemic.

Stroke Connect – a partnership between the NHS and the Stroke Association – provides stroke survivors with support and advice in the early days following hospital discharge, without having to leave the house.

The new service is providing a lifeline during the pandemic and has helped more than 500 people to rebuild their lives after having a stroke since it launched in July. Patients are contacted for an initial call within a few days of discharge from hospital, from a trained ‘Stroke Association Connector’ – an expert in supporting people after stroke.

He or she provides reassurance, advice and support concerning and immediate concerns and links the stroke survivor to further support which they can access longer term as part of their recovery. A further call is offered within the month to check on the stroke survivor’s progress, identify any further support needed and signpost other sources of support.

Families of a stroke survivor can also opt to receive essential information on self-management, including how to look after their own health and wellbeing. The new service complements existing rehabilitation services and ‘life after stroke’ care, which has continued throughout the pandemic.

NHS national clinical director for stroke Dr Deb Lowe said: “As the NHS responded to the biggest health challenge in a century, treating over 108,000 people in hospitals with coronavirus, it continued to deliver essential treatment to people having strokes. Follow-up care is vital for recovery and so this new lifeline will be invaluable to support rebuilding lives after stroke.

“Please remember, if you’re worried that you are having a stroke, call 999 as your NHS is here to support you.”

Stroke survivors who feel they want to talk to somebody can also call the Stroke Association’s helpline on 0303 3033 100.

Juliet Bouverie OBE, Chief Executive of the Stroke Association, added: “Stroke is the single biggest cause of adult disability in the UK, resulting in significant mental and physical challenges. We’ve been working with NHS England to improve the support stroke survivors get after leaving hospital.

“By reaching out to stroke survivors during the early days of their recovery, we can help to stop a small problem from snowballing into a crisis. I’m proud that we’re able to work with the NHS to make sure that stroke survivors get help in these difficult circumstances.

“Stroke is a brain attack and recovery is tough, but with the right specialist support and a ton of courage and determination, the brain can adapt after stroke. During this pandemic, we’re determined to make sure that stroke survivors don’t experience a crisis in their recovery. With our expertise, we’re well positioned to help stroke survivors rebuild their lives.”

While some people have had reservations about seeking medical help during the pandemic, anyone who thinks they (or a loved one) are experiencing symptoms of a stroke should dial 999 without hesitation.

• For more information about recognising stroke symptoms and about recovering from a stroke, click here to visit the Stroke Association website. You can also watch a short video on why it’s vital to ‘act FAST’ if you experience stroke symptoms by clicking here.

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