Cork Support Group for Strokes to be launched

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A Stroke Support Group for adults living with the experience of stroke and their carers is being launched in Cork in the Clarion Hotel on November 3rd, 6.30pm -9.00pm. The evening, chaired by Anne Riordan of the Irish Heart Foundation, will be informative and of interest to patients, relatives, health care workers or any member of the public with an interest in stroke. Key note presentations will include ‘Stroke the Lived Experience’ (Mr Anthony Holten), ‘Medical Advances & Secondary Prevention’ (Dr Kieran O’Connor), ‘Speech & Language Conversation Partner Scheme’ (Ms Kate Dunn) and Plans for Cork Stroke Support Group (Ms Mary J. Foley). John Allen (ex-Manager of Cork Hurling Team) will also be present to represent the perspective of families post stroke. Programme for the evening will include product exhibition stands (including two wheelchair adapted cars) and multi-disciplinary, multi-agency information stands.

Claire Desmond, Senior Community Physiotherapist comments; “there are many families in Cork city and County who have experienced stroke and as survivors, overcome obstacles daily and can offer valuable advice to others in relation to facing challenges’. Annually, approximately 1,000 people a year present to hospitals in Cork post stroke. An information evening hosted by the Irish Heart Foundation in 2008 identified patients and carers need for increased information and social support in addition to therapeutic services. This is reflected in the comments of an individual post stroke in relation to the importance of a support group “to make the wider community aware of the needs of stroke victims and to be considered a resource”.

Responding to this void, the launch of the Cork Stroke Support Group is a HSE and Irish Heart Foundation initiative. Involvement of other key stakeholder groups such as BRI, Headway, Age Action Ireland, HSE Health Promotion Unit and Friends of St Finbarr’s has laid a firm foundation for collaborative working with the shared goal of enhancing quality of life of individuals post stroke and families.

Stroke Support Group monthly meetings will commence in January 2011 and will be held on the last Wednesday of every month in the Activities Centre, St Finbarr’s Hospital. At the launch we will be capturing names of people interested in joining stroke support group. We will also be recruiting volunteers interested in joining management committee or steering group or willing to assist with activities, transport or outings. Mary J. Foley, Advanced Nurse Practitioner, St. Finbarr’s Hospital expects that ‘stroke support group activities will evolve in accordance with the expressed needs of individuals post stroke and their carers. Key elements will be information, interaction, enablement and enjoyment’. Stroke Support Groups are already up and running successfully in other counties and we are hoping that we can do the same in Cork.

What is a Stroke Support Group?

A Stroke Support Group provides vital support and activities for those affected by stroke and their carers. It provides a meeting place for people to come together and discuss experiences they may have had. The groups also provide information, raise awareness and offer support and advice on living with stroke. A stroke support group is not a therapy group.

Why is a Stroke Support Group important?

Social support is important at every stage in stroke recovery. Social isolation is considered a risk factor for a poor outcome after stroke. Family and friends, have an important role to play in stroke recovery. Participation in Stroke Support Groups also has many benefits which include:

* Access to information.
* Sharing of Similar Challenges, Concerns and Experiences with more positive outlook.
* Aiding Recovery and Adjustment to Changes post Stroke.
* Peer support and encouragement in an open and relaxed environment.
* Supportive networks, friendships and fun.
* Reduced isolation, depression, distress or anxiety.
* Improved discharge outcomes through social integration and enablement.

The initial Goals of the Cork Stroke Support Group are to:

* Give people an opportunity to meet others post stroke who have similar challenges and experiences and have found solutions.
* Provide a structured way to share information and experiences and support each other.
* Encourage active involvement and social integration of people with communication and physical challenges.
* Facilitate meaningful, enjoyable activities which will enhance emotional wellbeing and cognitive function.
* Improve quality of life with emphasis on abilities, enablement and social integration.

Membership of the Cork Stroke Support Group.

Membership the Cork Support Group is open to anyone who has had a stroke and / or their family in Cork City or County or surrounding areas. Regardless of when or where the stroke occurred, individuals are welcome to attend monthly sessions for as long as they wish. Some may wish to attend sessions less regularly but receive information regarding activities and outings and annual general meeting.

As the need for information and dependence on the group decreases, ability to share information and support newcomers increases. It is acknowledged that needs vary and everyone’s experience is unique. As Stroke Survivors, you are the experts and this is your Stroke Support Group. As Health Care Professionals and Informed Volunteers, we are there to support you.

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