Almost 250 stroke service providers, stroke teams, general practitioners and practice nurses from across the South Island learnt about a wide range of stroke-specific topics at the annual South Island Stroke Study Day. The event focused on enhancing the daily practice of stroke delivery and quality care and included the management of post-stroke depression, and the transition from hospital to home.

Part of the programme included a case study on stroke carer and survivor Shona Andrell, who talked about her own recent experience following a stroke, as well as caring for her husband after he suffered two strokes.

Shona has been involved in the care and support of both stroke survivors and carers since her husband’s first stroke in 1996. She helped establish a support group for younger stroke survivors and was heavily involved with the Stroke Foundation for nine years. To this day, she still runs two stroke groups, and is currently meeting with other stroke club convenors to set up an easy way for clubs across the South Island to communicate with each other.

Shona says the range of support available for stroke survivors has improved immensely over the years. “I had my stroke in June and I was fortunate to be one of the first patients to go to the redeveloped Burwood Hospital. I was very impressed with the support and services available there. The community stroke team have also been wonderful. They provide you with support straightaway, and are very encouraging and helpful.”

The study days were created to help people like Shona receive the best possible care and support, both in hospital and once they return home, says stroke specialist Dr Suzanne Busch, of Nelson Marlborough District Health Board. Dr Busch was a speaker at the 2015 event and chaired this year’s morning session. “The study days exemplify the South Island’s multi-disciplinary approach to stroke,” she says. “It’s an extraordinary opportunity for different disciplines to come together and understand the expertise of other disciplines. This is a mix of people who wouldn’t normally have the chance to get together and ask each other questions – so it’s a very positive step towards improving South Island stroke care expertise.”

Other presentation topics included the application of the ICF (International Classification of Functioning, Disability and Health) model in stroke care, acute stroke rehabilitation, dysphagia advances and management, minimising complications for stroke survivors, and making each interaction meaningful for recovery in a therapeutic role.

Presented by the South Island Alliance and the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand, the study day was held at the Rolleston Lecture Theatre on 27 October. Jane Large, facilitator for the South Island Stroke workstream, says 143 people attended in person and 100 attended via video conference, across sites in Nelson, Blenheim, Greymouth, Buller, Hokitika, Invercargill, Dunstan, and Dunedin. “During the day, attendees were given postcards to write three areas of change they plan to implement in their own practice. A month later, the postcards were sent back to them as a reminder of what they had chosen to focus on. This was a unique way of tracking progress and reminding people what they had been inspired to apply, in order to enhance their daily delivery of stroke care.”

A survey was also sent to attendees soon after the study day. Feedback showed all the health disciplines rated the event highly in terms of providing useful, practical information, Jane says.  “It was a very successful day and we would like to thank everyone for attending, and hope to see you all again at next year’s event as we continue to improve stroke care across the South Island.”


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