The Stroke Association has designated May as their annual stroke awareness month otherwise known as ‘Make May Purple’. Their aim to to increase the awareness of stroke, stroke prevention and treatment and to raise funds for much needed research into this condition and support for stroke survivors.
What is a Stroke?
It is always a good idea to refresh our knowledge, even if we are very familiar with a particular element of care. So the following information is a brief refresher on Stroke and Stroke prevention.
A stroke is a brain attack. It happens when the blood supply to part of your brain is cut off. It can be caused by:
- A blockage (an ischaemic stroke), or
- A bleed (a haemorrhagic stroke). Blood carries essential nutrients and oxygen to your brain so it can work properly.
Without blood, your brain cells can be damaged or destroyed and they won’t be able to do their job. Because your brain controls everything you do, feel, think and remember, a stroke can affect these abilities.
What are the signs and symptoms that you or someone you know is having a stroke?
- Dropping eyes, mouth, arms, legs
- Blurred vision
- Slurred speech
- Weakness, numbness or paralysis
- Loss of consciousness
- Sudden severe headache
Please note that not everyone will experience the same or show signs of all symptoms.
You will probably have seen the campaign from Public Health England on the TV, and elsewhere, promoting F.A.S.T. This is a quick and effective way of remembering what to do if you suspect that someone is having a stroke.
Act FAST. Call 999.
F – Facial weakness. Can the person smile?
A –Arm weakness. Can the person raise both arms?
S – Speech problems. Can the person speak clearly?
T – Time to call 999 if they have any of these signs.
The quicker a person having a stroke receives medical attention the better their chances are. The first 3 hours following the first signs of a stroke are crucial so acting FAST and getting help is a priority.
Credit size cards of the Stroke Association F.A.S.T. mnemonic are being made available to all of our care teams as a visual reminder of what to look out for with their clients.
What can you do to prevent a having a stroke?
At the Good Care Group, we believe in providing excellent care for our clients but also in looking after our care teams and our colleagues who work in our head office. One way we do this is to look after their well-being, and raise awareness of self-care. As part of the Make May Purple Week we are going to place a special emphasis on looking after ourselves and reducing our own risk of stroke.
The majority of Strokes are preventable. There are lifestyle decisions that we all make that can influence or increase our risk of having a stroke. Not all Strokes are preventable but that is no reason not to make changes in our lifestyles to reduce the likelihood of it happening to us.
Here are seven things you can do to reduce your own risk and our client’s risk of Stroke:
1. Manage your medical conditions.
If you have been diagnosed with diabetes, a heart condition or high blood pressure, it is important to follow the medical advice given to you. Taking your medication as prescribed, reporting any changes and looking after your health.
2. Stop smoking.
There are lots of advice and support out there to help, even cutting down will help, but stopping all together reduces the risk of Stroke significantly. Click here for more information.
3. Drink less alcohol.
Have at least 3 alcohol free days a week. Choose drinks with a lower alcohol percentage. Mix your drinks with sparkling water or other soft drink. Alternate your drinks with a soft drink or water. Click here for more information.
4. Maintain a healthy weight.
Find out what your ideal weight should be, given your build and height, and aim to get to that weight and stick to it!
5. Do more exercise.
Use the stairs rather than the lift, walk to the further bus stop than the one you usually catch. Or try walking briskly for 30 minutes 3 times a week, these are all small and easy to maintain changes that will greatly improve your fitness. Click here for more information.
6. Eat a healthy diet.
Eat your 5-10 portions a day of fruit and veg, increase your amount of lean protein and cut down on saturated fats and added sugar and most importantly drink plenty of water.
7. Reduce your stress levels.
Find an activity that relaxes you and spend some time each day doing this. Relaxation/meditation/yoga, colouring, walking, talking with friends, seeking help when you feel you are not coping.
The Good Care Group are supporting this initiative by reminding all of our employees of the importance of the FAST campaign and encouraging them to aim to reduce the risk of stroke for themselves. We will also be having a ‘Wear Purple to Work Day’ with a display of information at our head office to promote stroke awareness and prevention.
The Good Care Group has a long standing relationship with the Stroke Association working together to raise the awareness of stroke care and to ensure that The Good Care Group’s professional carers have the most up to date knowledge and skills required in caring for Stroke survivors.
The Stroke Association has provided Level 2 Stroke Care Training for The Good Care Group carers for the past 3 years which has meant that we are able to deliver high quality specialist care to our clients, enabling them to continue on their recovery journey in their own homes. Our next course starts in June 2017.
I have recently joined The Good Care Group as an Occupational Therapist and part of my role is to continue to develop our expertise and skills by being part of a specialist Stroke Care Service for our clients. I along with my colleagues, we are able to provide reablement plans to support our clients with their recovery using a goal setting process ensuring that their needs and wishes are at the centre of their care. We will work with our NHS colleagues in ensuring that our clients have the appropriate equipment and adaptations in their homes so that they are able to live as independently as possible.
Increasing our awareness of the causes, signs and prevention of Stroke can only help to improve and develop the care The Good Care Group provides to its clients. Working in partnership with The Stroke Association and other organisations will ensure our knowledge and interventions are up to date and relevant. Please use the links provided for further information and to increase your awareness and involvement as well as supporting the valuable work of The Stroke Association as they strive to develop new areas of care and research into stroke care and management.