Abstract 3005: Stroke Support: Survivors Become Givers of Support
Background: Stroke recovery is a different experience for every survivor. The recovery process can continue for many years after the initial event. Reintegration into the community can be difficult, as stroke patients have both short and long-term needs. A stroke support group must be flexible enough to assist patients over the time spectrum of their recovery. Our stroke support group was established 21 years ago and has many of its original members still active as leaders. Because younger people are having strokes and have different recovery demands, we were concerned that our program had not evolved to meet the full spectrum of our patients’ needs.
Purpose: To evaluate our current program with the goal to update and expand its programming.
Methods: Stroke group members were asked for their suggestions to improve the program. A multidisciplinary team then met to review ideas and design action plans.
Results: As a result of the suggestions, the following program changes have been made: 1) a new program brochure was created with snapshots of members to reinforce that strokes do not always make people invalids; 2) support group meetings are now scheduled at two times on the same day of the month: during the afternoon for members who want to be home before dark, and in the evening for members (younger stroke survivors/caregivers) who want to attend after work; 3) the older group has changed their name to “Stroke Survivors & Thrivers”, and its members have volunteered to visit patients in the hospital and to make phone calls to stroke patients and their caregivers; 4) creation of a steering committee to facilitate meeting organization; 5) meeting content selection is done by group members; 6) quarterly sessions devoted to open discussions for idea sharing and questions; 7) information is provided via social media sites, email, and the stroke center web site in addition to traditional mailings; and 8) both groups join together to participate in the annual American Heart Association Heart & Stroke Walk.
Conclusions: Involving members of the Stroke Support Group to participate in the structure and function of the program has increased member satisfaction, improved attendance at meetings, and allowed the program to reach a broader range of survivors. As a result, the Support Group has become empowered to meet the needs of more stroke survivors and their caregivers in our community - helping them to become Thrivers as well.
- © 2012 by American Heart Association, Inc.