Stroke survivors ‘missing out on recovery services’

Stroke survivors are not making the best possible recovery because of a lack of post-hospital care, according to a report.

More than a third of survivors (38%) surveyed had not been assessed on their health and care needs to help their recovery, a study by the Stroke Association found.

More than half (53%) of people who had suffered a stroke in the last three years had been assessed only once.

A stroke happens when the blood supply to the brain is cut off, caused by a clot or bleeding in the brain.

Around 150,000 people have a stroke in the UK every year and more than 1 million are living with the effects of stroke.

Without assessments, patients are missing out on services that are essential to them making the fullest possible recovery, the charity said.

These include physiotherapy, speech therapy and help with washing and dressing.

The government’s National Stroke Strategy states people should receive an assessment six weeks after leaving hospital, again at six months and then annually.

Just under four out of 10 (38%) of those who had received an assessment had been given a care plan outlining the services and treatments that would be put in place to help them get better, the study of more than 2,200 survivors and carers found.

Almost half (48%) of those receiving services said failures in health and social care services to work well together meant their families and carers had to take responsibility for co-ordinating care.

One in five (18%) said services had been withdrawn even though their needs had stayed the same or had increased.

Jon Barrick, chief executive at the Stroke Association, said: “More people than ever are surviving a stroke and that’s a welcome improvement.

“But many stroke survivors tell us that after all the effort to save their lives they then feel abandoned when they return home.

“The NHS and local authorities are failing in their responsibilities to provide appropriate and timely support to stroke survivors and their families; and the growing evidence of cuts for people currently getting services is very worrying.”

The Stroke Association is calling for the NHS to ensure all stroke survivors have their health and social care needs assessed and regularly reviewed.

It also wants improved co-ordination of health and social care services and better training for those working in social care who come into contact with stroke survivors to better understand strokes and their impact.

A Department of Health spokesman said there was still more to do to improve the care given to those surviving strokes.

“Care of stroke patients in hospital has improved dramatically over recent years with the majority of patients now treated in specialist stroke units, but we know there is still more to do,” he said.

“That is why we have established a programme which focuses on driving up standards for stroke patients, by ensuring, among other things, that patients have a joint care plan prepared for them before they leave hospital.

“Modernisation of the NHS will help to integrate health and social care services. The new health and wellbeing boards will bring together representatives of different health and care services to agree a joint health and wellbeing strategy for their area. Making sure that different services work together around patient needs will be key to that strategy.”