Harlow Stroke Support Group

Charity Number 1099071

GPCA, Abercrombie Way, Harlow, Essex. CM18 6YJ.

Tel: 01279 308313

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                                                   Harlow Stroke Support Group (HSSG)                                             

Our work is to provide first class information on stroke and prevention, training,friendship and practical support to stroke survivors, carers and their families

One of our staff undertakes a weekly visit to the stroke unit at Princess Alexandra hospital in Harlow where she can reach more stroke survivors by checking with staff as to who will need help on discharge and talking to patients and their families to reassure them of the support available from ourselves. She visits survivors at home as soon as possible after hospital discharge to assess the individual support needed. This includes help with benefits, form filling, home help and carers. We contact relevant agencies on their behalf such as DWP, Wiltshire Farm Foods and Social Services. Our home support will continue for as long as a member requires it. Once people are ready we encourage attendance at one or more of our groups.

We currently run 4 group sessions per week:

1. Chair base exercise class, with discussion on nutrition. This is taken by a trainedleader with a qualified stroke physiotherapist assessing progress monthly.

2. Dysphasia Class, for members with speech and communication problems. Ourleaders teach our members other methods of communicating by using props andhelp them prepare a personal communication booklet. We work on speech, reading and writing. We also do activities which help concentration and memory.

3. Friday morning social group. Attendees undertake arts and crafts, play games tohelp concentration and chat with each other. The group is supervised by one of ourleaders with help from volunteers.

4. Friday afternoon social group similar to above. The attendees are younger and areencouraged to look at what they can achieve in the future such as volunteering or helping with Stroke Group tasks. Some of our members at this group would also like to find a way of getting back to work, even if part time, so we support them to do this if their health allows.

We arrange 11 external visits or events each year such as canal boat trips, visits tothe zoo and lunch at a restaurant. We work with Harlow Community Transport andEpping Community Transport to help people attend groups and outings.

We also provide advice and guidance by telephone as and when required.

We run a yearly information day, open to our members, their carers and the public.Therapists attend to give information on what is a stroke, and how to prevent anoccurrence or re-occurrence. We answer questions regarding stroke and rehab thatattendees have and take blood pressure where requested as this is a good measure to assess stroke risk.

We are also looking to provide twice yearly events aimed specifically at carers tohelp with communication and rehabilitation.

We hold at least two fund raising events such as collections at a supermarket andcar park where we also promote stroke prevention through discussions with thepublic and issue of our leaflets. One of our staff attends the six week and six monthfollow- up stroke clinics and will attend Stroke Board meetings with the Clinical Commissioning Group. She will also work in stroke prevention such as visiting GPs and promoting awareness with the public.

We can make a practical difference to stroke survivors, their carers and families by providing the means for them to regain and continue to lead a full and active life.Our early home support is there to address immediate needs and allay fears

following hospital discharge. Counselling at this early stage can help combat thedepression which often occurs following stroke.

Community physio has a long waiting list and a shortage of staff, so we run ourexercise class to prevent delays in physical progress, keep members mobile andalso provide advice on nutrition. We help our members with dysphasia and memoryproblems learn alternative methods of communication to help them remainindependent. Our social groups and outings help to rebuild confidence and self-esteem. They also address isolation by getting members back into society, makingnew friends and helping each other. By increasing their world the panic and worryfelt can be alleviated.

Q3 Stroke is a devastating illness that affects the survivor and their family's wholelife. A stroke is a brain attack which affects each person differently leading to varyingneeds. Survivors can be left with various physical, cognitive and mental disabilities,such as being unable to walk or use one side of their body, being unable to talk orread and write or being unable to remember their name and address. Unfortunately in this climate, community therapists are in short supply and stroke survivors can feel abandoned. Many carers have told us that don't understand or know how to cope with their family member as their mental and cognitive problems have changed them. Physical problems are easier to understand than brain injuries. Many of our members, especially if they have been left for a while without support, feel that their life is over, and they do not want to leave the house, and in a lot of cases, just want to escape by sleeping the whole time.

Our challenge is that stroke in many cases is a long term illness and some members will always need support. We have many referrals from therapists, social services, or just word of mouth, not only from Harlow, but surrounding areas, as there is no similar service providing both long term and tailored support.

NHS staff are there to deal with the symptoms and the illness. The HSSG dealwith the life changing affect stroke has on everyday life. By firstly addressing theimmediate short term issues such as claiming benefits or dealing with paperwork we can provide a long term opportunity for stroke survivors to lead a normal life. Our groups' strengths are in bringing people together in a safe environment where they can help each other under expert supervision. This can be as simple as a more able bodied survivor pushing a wheelchair on an outing or members sharing skills such as knitting. We aim to instil in all our members that they are useful members of the community and have something to offer no matter how small. The courage and resilience of our members is inspiring. They can be seen getting stronger and more confident following our support. We have moved to Great Pardon Community Association, which has supported us and other community projects over the years. HSSG has provided support for stroke survivors for 19 years; we have built a strong reputation with the community and medical staff. Our Manager has 12 years' experience in this field and has built the group up from 10 to 198 members today. Our part time staff, 1 has been with the group for 11 years, and the other is a retired RGN with 20 years' experience on the stroke wards, as lead stroke nurse.



Outreach Work:

Staff members, are undertaking our outreach work, and networking with the medical staff and the public,
and letting people know about Stroke and Prevention.  Plus information on our group.
If any of you belong to a group, or club and would like Us to come and give a talk, please let us know.

     Ring Jean or Emma on 01279 308313