Stroke survivors let down by professionals’ lack of knowledge

Stroke survivors' recovery is being hindered a lack of knowledge among health and social care professionals and poor access to assessments, care plans and reviews, the Stroke Association warned today.

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Stroke survivors’ recovery is being hindered a lack of knowledge among health and social care professionals and poor access to assessments, care plans and reviews, the Stroke Association warned today.

Staff lacked an understanding of the impact of stroke on survivors’ lives, said 85% of respondents to a survey by the charity, all of whom had been affected by stroke.

In a report, Struggling to recover, the association called for better training for social care professionals and other staff who came into contact with people who had suffered a stroke, which is the biggest cause of disability.

“If professionals are not adequately trained to understand these often hidden symptoms, then families can be left to struggle alone, unaware that the change in condition of their loved one may, in fact, be related to their stroke,” it said.

Survivors should have a review of their health and social care needs within six weeks and six months of their stroke, followed by annual checks, says the 2007 national stroke strategy.

However, the survey of over 2,200 people found 38% had not had a joint assessment of their health and social care needs, as proposed by the strategy. Some of this group may have had separate assessments of their social care and health needs, the Stroke Association confirmed.

In addition, 53% of those who had had a stroke in the past three years had only undergone one such assessment, and just 38% of those who had been assessed had received a care plan. Almost half of respondents (48%) said health and social care services were not well co-ordinated

The association said this meant survivors were missing out on vital services required to help them rebuild their lives, as assessments were a gateway to support.

The survey also highlighted the impact of cuts, with 18% of respondents reporting services being withdrawn despite their needs increasing or staying the same.

“More people than ever are surviving a stroke and that’s a welcome improvement,” said the association’s chief executive, Jon Barrick. “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.”

Image: Milton Montenegro/Photodisc/Getty Images

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