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Former stroke sufferer supports patients

20 January 2009

Amanda Pitt-Brown knows only too well the devastating impact that a stroke can have on someone’s life.

Amanda Pitt-Brown knows only too well the devastating impact that a stroke can have on someone’s life.

She says: “I was only 33 when I had my first stroke. It left me in a wheelchair and I lost the power of speech. I have had three more strokes since then and, although I can now walk and speak, recovery is an ongoing process.

“I wanted to give something back for all the care that I have received and to provide a voice for patients who often cannot speak for themselves after they have suffered a stroke.”

Amanda is now a Stroke Association volunteer who offers support to patients while they are on Nell Gwynne Ward, the hospital’s dedicated Stroke Unit, and after they are discharged home.

She answers questions, listens to patients and carers, shares her experience with health professionals on the team and participates in a stroke patient group on the ward.

Amanda explains: “It can be a huge shock when patients leave hospital and go home, especially if someone lives on their own and they can’t even make themselves a cup of tea.

“I discovered through my own experience that you can also lose a huge chunk of your personality, what makes you who you are, when you have a stroke and it can take time to get that back, especially if you lose the ability to speak.”

Florence Joseph now spends one morning a week on Nell Gwynne Ward as Co-ordinator of the Stroke Association’s Family and Carer Support Service, funded by NHS Kensington and Chelsea (formerly Kensington and Chelsea Primary Care Trust).

She says: “We provide a package of support for stroke patients including emotional support and timely information on issues such as driving a car, benefits and other everyday matters that are very important for people after they suffer a stroke.

“We get to know the individual patient, their carer and family, we listen to their concerns and after the patient leaves hospital we provide a follow-up service.

“Emotional support is very important after someone suffers a stroke because people have fears and concerns about the impact that a stroke will have their on their lives.”

The Trust’s partnership with the Stroke Association to provide this practical support for patients strengthens our Stroke Unit’s reputation as among the best in the country—we were ranked sixth out of 224 hospitals in England in the latest National Sentinel Stroke Audit.