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Stroke Day Service a real life changer

Staff and patients attending the Kerry Stroke Day Service exercise classes

Staff and patients attending the Kerry Stroke Day Service exercise classes

They come from all walks of life, young and old and from many different communities around Kerry but together they all share a common bond in that they are all stroke survivors.

With the wonderful help of the Stroke Day Service, they are getting their lives back together one step at a time.

The Stroke Day Service at Baile Mhuire has been ongoing for over a year now providing nursing and physiotherapy support to people recovering from a stroke. This one day a week service delivers a 10-week programme to support people after a stroke.

Led by Baile Mhuire Day Care Centre, Tralee, with the support of the HSE, the Stroke Day Service offers clients supports such as physiotherapy, nursing care, peer support and other allied health professionals inputs. Those attending the Stroke Day Service can avail of physical and mental stimulation programmes and enjoy morning tea and a midday meal. The programme runs one day a week on Fridays and feedback to date from participants has been very positive.

The gap in community-based programmes for people with stroke is a recognised deficit in the service for people with stroke, a gap which has been highlighted by many sources including the Irish Heart Foundation. Kerry Stroke Support, set up in 2009 as an initiative of the Tralee Primary Care team to support stroke survivors in Co Kerry, had advocated for such services and was the driving force behind the development of the Stroke Day Services. A collaboration between Baile Mhuire Day Care Centre, Ard Chúram Day Care Centre and the HSE has led to the development of the Stroke Day Service.

For former Marathon runner Brian from Tralee, a veteran of over 50 marathons, the Stroke Day Service is all about helping others who might feel isolated once they finish their treatment in hospital.

Brian recalls his own stroke experience. “I picked up a virus and it ate away the valve in my heart and I got a stroke on the table. I was in a coma for eight weeks in University Hospital Cork. When we came out there was nothing there for us and for others like us.”

The Stroke Day Service Programme is run one day a week in each of the centres for 10 weeks. The programme consists of group exercise classes, individual physiotherapy sessions and a mixture of mental stimulation activities throughout each day. Guest speakers/therapies have been introduced throughout each programme including mindfulness/yoga/group counselling. 

The programme began as a six-week programme but has been extended in response to feedback from the clients and is now a 10-week programme. In order to enhance the service provided and following feedback from the clients, the staff have also received training from Speech and Language Therapists and Occupational Therapists, enabling staff to assist in the enhancement of communication skills and encouraging functional rehabilitation throughout the course of every day.

“The Stroke Day Service was a life-changer for me. We got great support and help from our physiotherapist and all the staff at Baile Mhuire. It’s like a social get-together, with great camaraderie and not only that you are surrounded by people in a similar situation to yourself. Even though all strokes are different, it’s all about how you deal with it. You get out of something what you put into it,” says Brian, who was confined to a wheelchair after his stroke.

“We met every Friday for 10 weeks during the course and you are with people who have all had strokes and are dealing with it in their everyday lives and it’s good to chat with these people and share stories and experiences and a cup of tea helps too,” he adds.

Having completed the Stroke Day Service, Brian continues on his road to recovery by attending the Kerry Stroke Support Group, which meets up on the last Friday of every month from 10.30am to 12.30pm at Baile Mhuire.

For Mary, who had her stroke six years ago, the support group is all about fun.

“I would not be here if I did not enjoy it. It is about the fun for me. They have a lot of exercises and we do them with fun. It’s a place I would not miss ever,” she says.

At the end of 2019, there were 10 stroke day programmes completed between the two-day centres, with a total of 78 clients having completed the courses. Feedback obtained through focus groups has been very positive both from the participants and the family members/carers.

The incorporation of physical activity with opportunities for socialisation and mental stimulation is a unique attribute of this Stroke Day Service and has been of immense benefit to both stroke clients and their carers. Both centres will continue to provide stroke day service in 2020.

For many stroke victims, it’s about constantly improving and, with the help of the Kerry Stroke Support Group and the Stroke Day Service, the future is much brighter.

This service is open for referrals. For further information and referral details contact Rose at 066-7123373.