Charity calls for more emotional support for stroke patients

Former soldier and stroke victim Darren Draper whose puppy Dash is helping him through his rehabilit

Former soldier and stroke victim Darren Draper whose puppy Dash is helping him through his rehabilitation.PHOTO BY SIMON FINLAY - Credit: Archant Norfolk

Calls have been made for the NHS to give greater psychological support to stroke patients after a new report revealed that the emotional effects were as devastating as the physical ones.

Too many stroke survivors and their families are abandoned when they leave hospital and left without the support they need to help them cope, according to the Stroke Association.

A poll of 2,700 stroke survivors across the UK found that 41pc said they felt abandoned after leaving hospital.

Some 59pc admitted that they felt depressed and two thirds said they experienced anxiety as a direct result of their stroke.

But, despite this, more than half said they received no information or practical advice to help them cope with the emotional impact.

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Strokes affect around 152,000 people in the UK every year and the brain damage caused by the condition means that they are the largest cause of adult disability in the UK.

As part of the Stroke Association's report, Feeling Overwhelmed, more than 200 people from across the East of England were interviewed about their experiences.

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While hospital care is rated highly, the emotional strain on survivors and their families when they return home is underestimated – and often overlooked by health and social care services, said the charity.

The survey also found that just under half of stroke survivors have experienced difficulties in their personal relationships.

Of these, two in 10 had broken up with their partner or were currently considering doing so.

Neil Chapman, assistant regional manager at the Stroke Association in the East of England, said psychological and emotional support needed to be seen as being as important to recovery as physical rehabilitation and incorporated into the assessment process.

'Stroke leaves survivors and families shocked, shaken and anxious as their lives are often irreversibly changed in an instant,' he said.

'There are over one million stroke survivors living in the UK and with an aging population this figure is only set to increase.

'Better recognition by health and social care professionals of the impact of stroke will help people to be properly assessed and get the right support.'

The Stroke Association is also calling for the emotional needs of stroke survivors to be addressed early, which may head off potential psychological problems which can impact on, and delay, recovery.

They are also calling for information, practical advice and emotional support to be made available to everyone who has had a stroke, or is supporting someone affected by stroke. The report also found that 56pc of carers felt depressed and half said that the relationship with the person who had a stroke had suffered or changed.

Reg Morris, clinical psychologist at Cardiff and Vale University Health Board, said: 'Depression, anxiety and fear of another stroke are common feelings amongst those touched by the condition and in the most extreme cases people can be left feeling suicidal. Better recognition of the emotional effects of stroke by health and social care professionals is essential in order to address the need for integrated psychological support for survivors and their families. We know that with the right emotional, psychological and physical care more stroke survivors will have the opportunity to make their best possible recovery.'

For more information on stroke and support available contact the Stroke Association helpline on 0303 3033 100 or visit

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