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COVID-19 and Stroke Services

Please note that there may be changes to teams and visiting due to COVID.

 

In this section:


Welcome

The Stroke Unit at the Ashford and St Peter’s Hospital is committed to providing the best treatment and care possible to its stroke patients. The Hyperacute and Acute Stroke Unit are based within the modern Duchess of Kent Wing at St Peters Hospital. The team provides inpatient and outpatient services for patients who have had a stroke or who are suspected of having had one. The stroke unit provides acute stroke, rehabilitation and neurology services, supported with cardiac monitoring and specialist nursing and consultant care.

There is a lot to take in in the first few weeks after a stroke. Many families and carers feel overwhelmed by the volume of information and practical arrangements that they have to consider. In the early days, it can be difficult to predict how much someone will recover, or what level of care and support they might need.

This website contains information and links to potentially helpful services which you can access as and when feels right for you as you move through your journey with us in the stroke service.

 
Brain scans

Remember that although this can be a very difficult time you are not alone. Reach out and ask for help if you need it.

 


The team

The Bradley Unit
 

The stroke unit has a multi-disciplinary staff team consisting of medical consultants, specialist nurses, a therapy team consisting of Physiotherapists, Occupational and Speech therapists and Dieticians and a Clinical Neuropsychology service.

The Medical team consists of Stroke Consultants who have been specifically trained in diagnosing and treating strokes. They are supported by a team of junior doctors. Our specialist stroke nurses are supported by a general nursing team who oversee the treatment of their patient, and keep them comfortable and safe whilst they are on the ward.

The aim of Physiotherapy is to help regain mobility and relearn the movements required to be able perform activities such as standing up, walking or reaching for objects following a stroke.

 

Occupational therapists work on everyday activities and the safe management of daily routines. They work to develop the skills and confidence to manage activities that are important to a person’s health and wellbeing.

Speech Therapists assess swallow and communication following a stroke. They will assess swallowing and provide recommendations to try and make eating and drinking as safe as possible. Some people have severe difficulties with swallowing after a stroke and may require feeding via an alternative method. Communication problems are common after a stroke. The Speech Therapists will assess your speech and language to identify any difficulties. They will provide exercises and strategies to support you to communicate

The role of the Stroke Dietitian's includes providing nutritional support if you have a poor appetite or weight loss and advising on appropriate modified texture diets if you have swallowing difficulties identified by the speech and language therapist. If you are unable to take food or drink orally an alternative feeding method may be advised e.g. nasogastric feeding, gastrostomy feeding (PEG). The dietitian can also provide advice on a healthy diet to reduce your risk factors if you have diabetes, hypertension, high cholesterol or are overweight’

The Clinical Neuropsychology service provide assessment and management of the emotional, cognitive (thinking processes) and behavioural changes that can happen as a result of a stroke. They may work with a patient on an individual basis, as well as with carers, family and other staff where appropriate.

 

If you are unsure of anything make sure you talk to a member of the team; ask them to explain and clarify. To find out more information about the roles of various multi-disciplinary team members please visit the Stroke main site.

Family support is central to the work we do and in the care we provide in the Stroke unit. In addition to the regular contact and updates that families will receive from the multi-disciplinary team, the clinical neuropsychology service also provide dedicated family support through this website, and individually for family members. We are looking to expand our services to offer a regular family support group meeting to link families in similar situations for support and sharing of ideas.


Impact of stroke on carers

The impacts of stroke can be far reaching and affect not only the stroke survivor but all those surrounding that person. You, and other close family members or friends, may experience a range of unfamiliar feelings and reactions because a stroke can change the person that you knew and loved. Although these may feel strange or unpleasant, it is important to remember that these are common, normal and understandable responses to a significant life experience affecting a loved one.

Often, one of the primary concerns for families/carers is what level of recovery the person might make. Recovering from a stroke is a gradual process, sometimes taking weeks or months, but often continuing for many years. Some people make an almost full recovery.

Most recover enough to be independent in most aspects of daily living; they are able to do many of the things they did before, perhaps with some support or adaptations. Some, however, will improve only a little and need long-term care.

For some people, it may feel like your whole life is disrupted and thrown upside down, and then you may find yourself unexpectedly in the role of carer with very little time to adjust to your new circumstances. Whilst caring for a loved one can be very rewarding, it can be a tiring and demanding role at a time of high stress. Many families feel overwhelmed by the volume of information and the practical arrangements that they need to make. It is important to access the right support for yourself as you move through your journey. Remember that although this can be a very difficult time you are not alone. Reach out and ask for help if you need it.

Common signs and symptoms of caregiver stress include:

  • Anxiety, depression, irritability.
  • Feeling tired and run down.
  • Difficulty sleeping.
  • Trouble concentrating.
  • Neglecting responsibilities.
  • Cutting back on leisure activities.
  • Feeling increasingly resentful.
  • New or worsening health problems.
  • Drinking, smoking, or eating more.
 
Worried person

 

Below are some simple ways that you can look after yourself during challenging times.

1. Stay Connected to others

Try to stay connected with friends and family. This could be by phone, video calling, email or social media. Try to accept offers of help.

 

2. Engage in activities you enjoy

Focus on the things that you can do which you enjoy, find relaxing, and which give you a sense of achievement. Try not to let caregiving take over all aspects of your life.

 

3. Share how you feel

Talking to people to make sense of what you have been through might be helpful. It can help to talk with friends, loved ones or other people you trust for support. Think about specific challenges you have faced in the past and how this may help you in this situation; How did you get through it? Who was helpful at that time?

If you wish to talk to someone other than family or friends, you can access support through the links below.

 
People Talking

 

4. Be kind to yourself

It is understandable to experience a range of unfamiliar feelings and reactions after a significant or threatening experience. Treat yourself with compassion and kindness. Try to hold in mind advice you would give to others in a similar situation who had been through the same experience.

 

5. De-stress

It is understandable that you may experience times of worry and stress; you may find yourself dwelling on what might have been or what might happen in the future. Where possible, try to focus on what IS within your control, what you CAN do and what you are ABLE to achieve.

Mindfulness and relaxation exercises can help to reduce the physical symptoms of anxiety and the intensity of our thoughts. Regular practice is necessary to experience the full benefits of these strategies.

  • This is a short mindful breathing exercise video on YouTube from Every Mind Matters
    Watch on YouTube
     
  • Use visualisation of a familiar or favourite place where you feel safe and secure for example a park or garden. Imagine being there and explore it within your mind. What would you see, what colours would there be? What sounds might you hear? Are there any scents that come to mind?
 

A simple breathing exercise:

  
Breathing Exercise

 


Resources

Support Organisations and Useful Websites

The Stroke Association

The Stroke Association provide specialist support, information, fund critical research and campaign to make sure people affected by stroke get the very best care and support to rebuild their lives. Information leaflets and local support groups.

https://www.stroke.org.uk/
Stroke helpline: 0303 3033 100
Supporter care: 0300 3300 740

Action for Carers

Action for Carers offer a range of services to support you in your caring role – they are free, and confidential. And we can signpost you to further sources of help and information.

https://www.actionforcarers.org.uk/
Tel:0303 040 1234

Different Strokes

Different Strokes is run by working age stroke survivors for working age stroke survivors. They help stroke survivors and their families to reclaim their lives though active peer support. Excellent resource pack for talking to children about stroke that can be requested.

https://differentstrokes.co.uk/
Information Line: 0345 1307172

Headway Surrey

Headway Surrey offer a range of services for individuals with acquired and traumatic brain injury, including specialist cognitive rehabilitation, befriending, a helpline, family support, education sessions, training and talks.

Helpline: 01483 454433
Email: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

Carer Support

Carer Support provides independent information, advice and support for carers

Runnymede: 01932 564446
Spelthorne: 01784 446234

TALK

TALK is a charity that supports people with aphasia following stroke. They have 5 groups in Surrey offering communication and social support to residents including in Woking, Guildford and Ashford.

Contact number: 07718 425953

 

Recommended Reading

Surviving Stroke: The Story of a Neurologist and His Family
Helen Kennerley & Udo Kischka (2020), Robinson, UK

Written by experts on both sides of the fence - a stroke victim who is a stroke specialist, and a psychologist who helps others and now has to help herself and her family - this is a personal and brutally honest story of a family's survival. This accessible and relatable book provides insight and realistic hope about what might lie ahead following a stroke, as well as offering both practical and emotional support.

A Stroke of Misfortune
John Greenridge (2010), AuthorHouse UK

This book is written by the husband and carer of a stroke survivor. He tells his story of how he devoted his life to helping his wife, Margaret, to recover.

My Stroke of Insight
Jill Bolte Taylor (2009), Hodder & Stoughton

Jill Bolte Taylor was 37 and working as an anatomist when an arteriovenous malformation (AVM) in her brain burst, causing a stroke. She was in the unique position of recognising what was happening to her. This book describes her long recovery and the lessons she has drawn from it.

My Year Off: Rediscovering Life After a Stroke
Robert McCrum (1998), Picador

The author and journalist had a severe stroke at the age of 42. He spent three months in hospital, and the next year recovering. He then returned to his job as literary editor of the Observer newspaper, and became actively involved with the charity for younger people affected by stroke, Different Strokes.

When Your Spouse Has a Stroke – Caring for Your Partner, Yourself and Your Relationship
Sara and Jeffrey Palmer (2011), John Hopkins University Press

This book provides guidance to stroke survivors and their partners on how to cope with a stroke. It focuses on caring for your partner whilst maintaining your relationship and ensuring that you look after yourself, too. It uses examples from couples and gives practical tips to cope with everyday challenges.