Stroke Recovery Carer’s Handbook
The Carer is the Vital Factor in Stroke Recovery
Information about stroke prevention, stroke recovery, and the Stroke Recovery Carer’s Handbook (at $15.00 per copy) are available from the Stroke Recovery Association.
Imagine it’s 4.00am. Your partner has had a stroke and you are in emergency wondering ‘What’s next’? What you are about to realise is that two people have been affected by the stroke – your partner and you – and both of your lives have been changed forever!
You will probably become your partner’s carer – a role you have had little or no training or experience to prepare you for.
The ‘Stroke Recovery Carer’s Handbook’, written by the husband of a stroke survivor, is designed to provide information, practical advice and hope to family members and friends of someone who has had a stroke.
In particular, the Handbook will assist new carers to find their way through the complex system of medical, rehabilitation, financial and other support services and provide a roadmap along the first 18 months to recovery, first to get their partner home from hospital, and then to give him or her the highest quality of life possible.
A well-informed carer is the vital factor in achieving these goals: in providing daily assistance, encouragement and hope to the stroke survivor, and in liaising with health professionals and others to gain access to the various forms of assistance needed for the recovery process.
Excellent services for supporting stroke recovery are available in Australia but the carer has to be proactive and persistent to find out what is needed, what is available, and how to get it … and be determined to get it! The Australian medical system is complex and compartmentalised and there are no mechanisms to holistically manage the entire recovery process for a stroke survivor.
You have to do it yourself in ‘partnership’ with the medical professionals!
The Carer’s Handbook was written by Dr Tom Crow, an engineer and project management consultant, in association with the Stroke Recovery Association and the Royal Rehabilitation Centre Sydney, to assist families and carers to navigate this complex process.
A stroke occurs when the brain is damaged by a sudden interruption of blood flow and hence oxygen supply. This may be caused by a blockage of the arteries leading to the brain or a ruptured blood vessel. The effects vary depending on which part of the brain is affected and the severity of the damage. The worst effects for a stroke survivor are partial paralysis of the body, loss of speech and cognitive impairment.
According to the Stroke Recovery Association more than 60,000 people in Australia have a stroke each year and 25% of them die within a month. Stroke is the main cause of disability in older Australians and the second most common cause of death (after heart attacks).
In the booklet, Tom recalls sitting stunned in hospital emergency desperate for information about stroke and stroke recovery after his wife, a fit and active lady, had had a sudden, seriously disabling stroke. His search for information and for sources of assistance, and his experience in ‘project managing’ his wife’s long periods of hospitalisation and rehabilitation, have enabled him to produce a Handbook that is a very comprehensive resource for anyone who finds themselves in a similar situation.
In the Crow’s case, the effects of the stroke were severe. After four weeks, Tom was told his wife was unlikely to ever return home or to walk again. Tom, with an engineer’s sense of purpose and strong support from family and friends, sought information; interacted with medical and rehabilitation professionals; and was constantly there to keep his wife informed about the options available, what was happening, and to give her hope.
Tom said, “The outcome was very positive. After 29 weeks in four different hospitals, five major operations and rehabilitation therapy for 2 to 3 hours per day in the later weeks, she was able to come home – and two months later we sold the wheelchair! This was not just a random lucky outcome, but the result of my wife’s determination and managing the process, which can be replicated by others. One wonders how many stroke survivors are unnecessarily nursing home residents.”
Key messages in the Stroke Recovery Carer’s Handbook are:
- There is hope – with treatment and much assistance available.
- There is a vital role – for the carer as a patient advocate.
Tom’s experience is that “this requires persistence and determination working in ‘partnership’ with the medical professionals. No prior medical experience is required, but this Handbook sure would have helped.”
Information about stroke prevention, stroke recovery, and the Stroke Recovery Carer’s Handbook (at $20.00 per copy plus postage) are available from the Stroke Recovery Association. To order your copy of the Carer’s Handbook just give us a call on 1300 650 594 and have your credit card handy. You could also download the order form below, and either fax it to (02) 9808 6173, scan it back to us at firstname.lastname@example.org or post it to us at PO Box 3401, PUTNEY NSW 2112.
If you would like any of our fact sheets (we have 25), stroke information kits (2), DVDs (2), brochures or posters, you should ring us during normal business hours. If we cannot answer your call please leave a message including your phone number. You can also email your request to email@example.com