Support for carers of stroke survivors

The Stroke Association has launched a new project, for the carers of survivors in south-west Wales whose lives change after the sudden impact of stroke.

There are almost 67,000 stroke survivors in Wales, many of whom are left with complex disabilities and need long-term care. Much of this care is provided by their families, who also need support themselves.

The number of carers has grown significantly as the survival rates for stroke increase. By 2037, Carers UK predict a 40% increase in the number of carers across the UK.

For all carers, the adjustment to a caring role can be emotionally and physically challenging, but for carers of stroke survivors the instant nature and complexity of stroke adds to this challenge.

The Caring and You programme, funded by The Changing for the Better Grant Scheme which is sponsored by the Abertawe Bro Morgannwg University Health Board, will give carers new skills, confidence and a support network to help them care for their loved ones.

Liz Atter, the Stroke Association’s Support Coordinator who is overseeing Caring and You said “As well as learning about the hidden impact of stroke and how to get help for your loved one, the course will focus on the needs of the carer. It will help reduce the feeling of stress, isolation and looks at ways to improve their health and wellbeing. Caring and You will benefit people new to caring and those who’ve been caring for many years.”

Enid Williams, 75 from Haverfordwest, cares for her husband Michael, 80, who has had a stroke and also has dementia. She found great support at last year’s pilot of the programme in Pembrokeshire.

Enid said, “It was one of the best things I’ve ever done. It was so good to speak to people in the same position as me.

“We did exercises about how we were feeling and whether we’ve had mood swings, which was really helpful, because sometimes I just feel like all I’m doing is waiting on my husband. It can be very hard going, especially as he can’t really respond.”

Enid also found the practical support invaluable. She added, “I’ve been offered sessions like this before, but couldn’t go because there was no one to take care of Michael. But with this programme, I could leave him at the stroke group and know he’d be okay.

“I’d encourage others to go because it can take a huge weight off your shoulders.”

The sessions, with space for ten carers, will start at Swansea’s Three Crosses Community Centre from 4 October, and Neath’s Melin Cryddan Community Centre from 31 October.

Where possible, the Stroke Association is working with existing local stroke groups to support the cared for person whilst their carer attends the programme. Support can also be found from some Caring Associations’ befriending services.

For more information and to register interest, please call the Stroke Association on 02920 524400 or email info.cymru@stroke.org.uk

Visit www.stroke.org.uk/caring and you to find out more about the programme.