The role of healthcare assistants in stroke prevention, recovery and survivor life quality was highlighted at two free professional development evenings hosted by New Zealand Tertiary College.
Speakers from the Stroke Foundation New Zealand engaged audiences with relevant content, research and care advice. Community Stroke Advisor Elaine Cottam spoke in Christchurch and General Manager (Northern Region) Don Scandrett in Auckland.
Stroke is the third biggest cause of death in New Zealand with 24 Kiwis affected by stroke every day, however, speakers were quick to highlight it was a largely preventable disease with diet and lifestyle key to lowering stroke risk.
Care workers in attendance were reminded of the importance of quickly recognising stroke symptoms with FAST – Face dropping, Arm weakness, Speech difficulty, Take action and call 111.
Scandrett shared conversations with St John’s paramedics to emphasise the importance of not waiting if a client is suspected of suffering from stroke.
“The paramedics would much prefer to be called and arrive to find the situation is not as serious as believed, than to be called too late,” Scandrett said.
He emphasised that stroke survivors are still engaged, even though they often suffer from communication disorders.
“It is important to keep communication simple but adult. It is common to hear from stroke survivors that they feel like they are treated like children and not given the time needed to communicate,” Scandrett said.
He suggested strategies for enabling communication, including slowed speech, clear introduction of new topics, and the use of drawing or technology to support communication.
Attendee feedback from both events was overwhelmingly positive. A Christchurch attendee shared, “The PD evening was very useful and very clear to understand. Not only will the information help my career but it also supported my own understanding of stroke. I loved it!”
Auckland attendee Anna de Joger said that the PD evening was “very informative” offering advice on caring and communicating with a stroke sufferer.