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Understanding patients' needs a top priority for Whanganui's Acute Stroke Unit

News Item

posted by WM Admin on 2 June 2015

Whanganui DHB media release, 2 June 2015

Whanganui Hospital Acute Stroke Unit and rehabilitation staff are focusing their attention on really understanding what it is their patients experience while in hospital.
And clinical nurse manager Amanda Van Elswijk says a key part of this effort involves recording day-to-day events in the Life after stroke diary given to patients. Until recently the diaries were filled in by patients only but now, family members and staff are making entries to create a more comprehensive record of a patient’s progress.
“We know many patients have difficulty recognising their progress and that this can lead to them feeling frustrated and disillusioned,” Mrs Van Elswijk says. “So, we’re using the stroke diary to record their therapy, goals, feelings and events to provide a reassuring record for them and their families.
“We are also providing discharge information in the stroke diary for patients to refer to when they go home. We recognise that receiving a lot of information at the time of discharge can be very overwhelming.”
Mrs Van Elswijk says there’s no doubt that how well stroke patients process what has happened to them and what the future holds, is very dependent on the support they and their family members receive.
“Having a stroke is life-changing for everyone concerned. Patients come to us grappling with a huge sense of loss and change and it’s particularly difficult for those who are permanently disabled. Knowing you will no longer be able to work or take care of yourself is devastating.
“In addition to the Life after stroke diary we give to patients, our staff take photos during a person’s rehabilitation process to give them a visual record of their progress and a feeling of hope that things will keep improving. Having a psychologist who works closely with our patients and families to help them come to terms with grief, loss and change brought about by strokes is also proving invaluable.
“Research has shown us that stroke patients who have access to acute stroke units attached to rehabilitation wards, do have better long-term outcomes. We hope by constantly looking at how we can improve our care we will improve those outcomes even further,” Mrs Van Elswijk says.

Facts about stroke

  • Stroke is the third largest killer in New Zealand (about 2500 people every year).
  • Around 10 percent of stroke deaths occur in people under 65.
  • Every day, about 24 New Zealanders have a stroke. A quarter occur in people under 65.
  • Stroke is the major cause of serious adult disability in New Zealand.
  • Stroke is largely preventable, yet about 9000 New Zealanders every year have a stroke.
  • There are an estimated 60,000 stroke survivors in New Zealand.
  • Many are disabled and need significant daily support but stroke recovery can continue throughout life.
  • Most people can’t recognise the signs of a stroke occurring. Know the signs to look for.
  • High blood pressure is a major cause of strokes. One in five New Zealanders has high blood pressure.

For information on how to recognise the signs of, and how to prevent stroke, visit