Improved care for stroke patients at home
30/10/2014To achieve the best possible outcomes for stroke patients, the Southern Trust aims to provide shorter intensive care in hospital followed by tailored support at home, says Angela McVeigh, Director of Older People and Primary Care Services at the Southern Health and Social Care Trust. “Getting specialised intensive care in hospital following a stroke can enable patients to leave hospital sooner, and continue their care in a home environment, with tailored support to achieve the best possible outcomes,” Mrs McVeigh says. “Research shows that more than 75 per cent of strokes occur in people over 65 years of age and it can have a devastating impact on people’s lives affecting their ability to move, eat, speak or carry out simple tasks.
“The Community Stroke Team works with patients and their carers on discharge from hospital and for up to a further 12 weeks in their own homes. The team works closely with medical and healthcare staff for the safe and appropriate discharge from hospital to ensure support networks are available in the home or alternative place of rehabilitation.”
Any patient referred to the team gets input from a range of professionals depending on their particular needs including a specialist stroke nurse, speech and language therapist, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, rehabilitation worker and social worker. The team in Craigavon and Banbridge also has a weekly update meeting with the stroke consultant.
“The team provides assessment, information, advice and support to stroke patients and their families,” adds Mrs McVeigh. “Carers are vital in assisting the person with a stroke to come to terms with their illness and in making lifestyle changes. The carer is often involved in sessions to practice specific treatment, handling techniques and the use of equipment. To build strength and increase independence, some patients will have a home treatment programme developed with the therapist which they undertake every day with the support of a family member or carer.”
The Trust funds Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke and the Stroke Association for their services. Northern Ireland Chest Heart and Stroke has local carers’ groups and the organisation works closely with the teams on a six-week physiotherapy-led exercise and health information programme. Family support co-ordinator Lynn McElroy works closely with the Craigavon and Banbridge Team on the programme at Brownlow Hub.
“The Moving On programme is very beneficial to patients for improving independence and recovery as much as possible,” says Mrs McVeigh. “The team also works with the Stroke Association for patients who need support with communication issues. It also signposts patients and carers to other community and voluntary organisations for long term support and rehabilitation.”
The Trust’s consultation on the future of stroke inpatient services continues until 31 October with final proposals due to go to Trust Board in November.