Eric tackles topics around rehabilitation from a stroke and the gaps he sees in NHS services for stroke survivors.
My whippet, Archie, responds eagerly to certain words and phrases – “biscuit”, obviously, along with “throw balls” and “treat.” In the same way, certain phrases in the health and social care world cause me to react, though not necessarily in a good way. “Patient journey” is one of those, which to me strips the humanity from what may sometimes be more realistically described as a “rocky road.” Another term which, at the very least, needs amplification is “self-management”.
As a stroke survivor with a weak left side, I am engaged in a very long journey of self-management, mainly through exercise. As with all journeys, it is good to have a companion. As a mere man, I also need the discipline of someone prodding me to keep going.
In the world of potentially catastrophic stroke outcomes, my circumstances are relatively benign. I have some pain, but not constant. I have all my senses. I can walk, albeit with a pair of walking poles for any distance. I can write for the Alliance website, without struggling too much with the thought processes involved. My balance is unreliable and I have limited use of my left hand. But, thanks to modern medicine, I am alive to tell this tale.
So, back to “self-management” and companions along the way. I wish our health and social care system was sufficiently robust and well-resourced to provide stroke survivors with supported self-management – regular monitoring every few months from a knowledgeable, dispassionate professional to check progress, and, just as important, to provide psychological and emotional support – also, in my case, discipline. This would be a prudent investment. We should not load these pressures solely on family carers, who are often too emotionally close and have other demands aplenty.
So, what about companions along the way? Well, there’s Archie….