Patients have a say in stroke services

A MAN who suffered a life-changing stroke spoke movingly about his experiences at the launch of a new patient group at Basildon and Thurrock University Hospitals NHS Foundation Trust. The group is being set up so people affected by stroke can have a say in how their services are run.

About 70 stroke patients, relatives and carers attended the „Shaping Stroke Services‟ event at the hospital. Guests met clinical and senior management staff, and heard how the group will help to influence stroke services in hospital and the community.

Shaun Ponder, with Pam Day (left) and Sara McGowan (right), Senior Sisters and members of the team who cared for him in Basildon Hospital

The special guest speaker was Shaun Ponder, who suffered a stroke in March 2010. He told the audience: “Before my stroke I was a self-employed handyman, who enjoyed gardening, travelling, walking my dog and playing golf.

“I lost the use of two thirds of my brain. I remember thinking in hospital “This can‟t be happening to me”; I don‟t want to be like this for the rest of my life. I was so frightened and confused I must have driven the nurses crazy. One of the therapists showed me some pictures and I couldn‟t tell the difference between a cat and a dog.

“But my recovery began with the help of physiotherapists, speech therapists, dietitians and occupational therapists. On Lister Ward, physiotherapists worked on me mornings and afternoons; occupational therapists taught me how to wash, shave and dress, and make tea and toast. I played games and did colouring to improve my mind. I remember cheers from the staff when after four weeks I managed to walk across the ward.

“Life is not what it was, but I can garden, walk my dog, enjoy my family, and life is good. I am so grateful to the staff at Basildon Hospital; without you I would not have recovered. During my stay here I had a radio, and the nurses enjoyed the music. So I‟d like to finish by saying that you may not be able to sing, but you are one hell of team.”

Hannah Coffey, Chief Operating Officer at the Trust, welcomed guests to the event, saying: “Our stroke services deliver excellent outcomes for our patients. This is a real credit to the commitment of our staff, both in the hospital and the community, who work together to ensure a seamless service for patients and their families at a difficult time.

“We are passionate about establishing this stroke user group so we can involve the people who experience our services in how we develop them in future”.

Dr Ravi Rangasamy, Lead Stroke Consultant, added: “Every five minutes in Britain, someone has a stroke. And it is not just the patient who is affected, but also their relatives. We really need to hear about the experiences and opinions of as many of you as possible so we can do the best possible job for you.”

Twenty people have already volunteered to play an active role in the new group, which will meet monthly to help the Trust consider the views of service users, review complaints, and develop links with community and voluntary services.

Another stroke consultant from the Trust, Dr Anil Agarwal, gave a talk on the causes, long-term effects and how to recognise the signs of stroke, and the benefits of prompt administration of clot-busting drugs.

The stroke user group will begin meeting in spring 2013. For more information, contact Simon Landergan, Operational Manager for Stroke, on 01268 524900 ext 1745.

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