Occupational Therapists helping to support stroke survivors in the community

Ann Illsley and Sarah Reynolds (TSDFT).

Published: 23 October 2017

It’s World Stroke Awareness Day on Sunday 29 October, the campaign this year is aimed at raising awareness of stroke and where people should go to get support.

Torbay and South Devon NHS Foundation Trust have made many changes to help people with complex needs and conditions such as stroke, to receive the support and services they need in the comfort of their own homes. Immediately after a stroke this can be support from teams such as the Community Neuro Team or Physiotherapists; then as recovery progresses, teams such as Occupational Therapists who can help support people with more long term disabilities caused by the stroke.

One person that knows this first hand is Ann Illsley, who with her husband Colin, moved to Paignton in 2016 to be closer to their family, after suffering a debilitating stroke which paralysed the entire left hand side of her body and left her wheelchair bound.

After moving into a new property in Paignton, it became apparent that Ann needed more help if she was to remain in her own home.

Sarah Reynolds, an Occupational Therapist from the Paignton and Brixham Team, visited the couple shortly after they moved in, aiming to help Ann feel more independent again.

Sarah ordered Ann a special bed with a rail to help prevent her failing out of bed and assist her getting in and out more easily. Also their bathroom was converted into a wet room so Ann could shower herself. Ann said: “Having a shower is absolutely heaven. I’m so grateful for what Sarah did, as it’s only through her, we got the bathroom converted. I can now wash my own hair and shower – it’s lovely.”

Other small adaptations such as making the sofa higher, has helped Ann to sit down and get up more easily, allowing the couple valuable ‘snuggle time together, rather than her sitting in the wheelchair all day.

Sarah also arranged for the addition of a power pack for Ann’s wheelchair, which previously was manual and difficult to manoeuvre. Ann commented: “Changes to the wheelchair mean we can finally get out together more and it has really taken the pressure off Colin. We just switch the battery on and away we go.

Sarah added: “Providing care within your own home allows us to understand the space you live in. It helps us to adapt your home environment by spotting small changes that mean you can be more independent and manage your day with dignity.

“It’s not just about physical adaptations, but also looking at the individual’s health and wellbeing, organising activities or referring them to other colleagues that can develop their interests more, such as the Wellbeing Coordinators or Community Physiotherapists.”

Ann stated: “I would definitely recommend to our local Occupational Therapist teams to anyone that has had a stroke and by joining local groups you don’t feel so alone. There really is life after stroke”