Our vision is of a world where there are fewer strokes and all those touched by stroke get the help they need. So, we’ve made it our mission to support people to rebuild their lives after stroke through providing services, campaigning, education and research. This year, we have helped to identify and improve upon a number of challenges faced by stroke survivors and their loved ones:
People aren't aware of the risks of stroke and how they can prevent it
90% of strokes worldwide are caused by modifiable risk factors such as high blood pressure and atrial fibrillation (AF). High blood pressure plays a part in half of all strokes, making it the biggest single risk factor for stroke. Atrial fibrillation (AF), a type of irregular heartbeat, is a contributing factor in 1 in 5 strokes in the UK. In both cases, a person’s risk can be reduced with effective diagnosis and treatment.
In April 2017, we rolled out our Take a Moment campaign to raise awareness of the link between high blood pressure and stroke and encourage members of the public to get their blood pressure checked. We reached an estimated 2.2 million people, received widespread media coverage and social media engagement, and encouraged nearly 3,000 people to download information about blood pressure checking.
We also ran 36 events across England and Scotland to test the feasibility of providing AF pulse checks at our existing Know Your Blood Pressure events. We delivered the next phase of our AF campaign by engaging with over 3,700 doctors through our online learning portal. We continued to work closely with Public Health England (PHE) to refine and promote the FAST campaign, achieving about 20,000 unique visitors to our FAST webpage.
There are huge gaps in the quality and availability of stroke support
Despite significant improvements in stroke treatment and care in recent years, there are still unacceptable variations in the quality and coverage of support services around the UK. Currently, only 3 out of 10 stroke survivors receive a six-month follow-up review and 1 in 3 areas in England, Wales and Northern Ireland do not provide support to the carers and families of stroke survivors after they leave hospital.
Following our A New Era for Stroke campaign, we were delighted that both NHS England and the Government agreed that a new plan to improve stroke services in England was needed after the previous strategy expired in December. We are now working in partnership with NHS England and others from across the health and care system to develop this further. This wouldn’t have been possible without the support we received from people affected by stroke, volunteers and members of the public.
In Northern Ireland, we influenced the Government’s consultation on the modernisation of stroke services to ensure it focused on the whole stroke pathway, including the care stroke survivors receive when they leave hospital.
In Wales, we are working with the Cross Party Group for Stroke to highlight necessary improvements across the stroke pathway, including the introduction of thrombectomy and the reorganisation of acute services.
In Scotland, we continue to advocate improvements to stroke care through our representation on the National Advisory Committee on Stroke.
There are 1.2 million stroke survivors living with the effects of stroke in the UK
In England, Wales and Northern Ireland, 84% of patients with stroke leave hospital requiring help with activities of daily living. A third of stroke survivors in the UK experience aphasia - affecting their ability to speak, write, read or understand what others say.
Through our network of 150 Stroke Recovery Services and other local stroke support offers, we reached 50,000 people, compared with 57,000 last year. The drop is partly explained by a change in data classification that excludes less active cases.
We've set up and piloted eight new Moving Forward After Stroke services, which focus on providing exercise and education opportunities.
We established four new Caring and You programmes, offering education and training for carers of stroke survivors.
Our helpline responded to over 18,000 enquiries by phone, email and Facebook, helping people with a wide range of emotional, practical and financial needs. We were able to answer around 4,000 more enquiries in 2017/18 than 2016/17, an increase of 22%.
We gave support to 1,358 stroke survivors and their families across the UK through our programme of financial grants. Our Hardship Fund grants provided immediate and vital support to 147 people in real crisis.
Stroke research is severely underfunded
Stroke causes more disabilities than any other condition, but funding for UK stroke research lags behind other major conditions.
For each person who had a stroke in the UK in 2012, £48 was spent on stroke research. This is a fifth of the amount spent on cancer research (£241) and less than half that spent on dementia research (£118).
In the last year, we invested £1 million into two haemorrhagic research projects, which included £450,000 in collaborative funding received from the Medical Research Council. We funded two new Lectureships and six new Fellowships as part of this year’s capacity building programme.
Our research on current, future and avoidable costs of stroke in the UK provided strong evidence that investing in stroke research today could lead to a significant reduction in the burden of stroke in the future. We used these reports as part of our campaign, Change the Story, which aimed to drive up awareness of the impact of stroke, and the importance of long-term investment in stroke research. Change the Story reached almost 6 million people - 20% more than our target.
There’s a serious UK-wide shortage of stroke professionals
Unfortunately, statistics show there is currently a significant shortage of stroke consultants, nurses and rehabilitation therapists. There’s also a lack of stroke awareness and skills within the health and social care workforce.
We undertook a strategic review of the impact of our stroke training for health professionals, and concluded that compared with providing direct training to the wider stroke workforce, we are likely to have a greater impact by influencing national training bodies who have responsibility for the workforce capability of their professions.
As a core member of the coalition, we once again organised the UK Stroke Forum conference in Liverpool to showcase the latest ground-breaking innovations in stroke research, care and treatment. Over 120 experts and researchers presented sessions, workshops and plenaries, as well as a video from Professor Sir Bruce Keogh, former Medical Director of NHS England.
The number of stroke survivors in the UK is expected to double in the next 20 years, so we need to establish foundations for long-term growth
This year, we successfully trialled ways of increasing awareness about our information and support services. Over 180,000 of our leaflets were picked up from 5,000 GP surgeries and our GP surgery screen adverts reached 3.8 million people. The number of helpline callers who heard about us from hospitals, GP surgeries or healthcare professionals increased by 260%. Almost 7 million people saw our 'Lost for Words' campaign, which raised over £300,000.
Gifts left in wills continue to play a critical role in funding our life-changing research programme and accounts for 50% (£11.8m) of our voluntary income. As well as receiving support from over 55,000 donors to our cause, runners came out in force, with over 11,000 supporters joining Resolution Run events across the UK. We also raised a record amount from those running the London Marathon (£420,000). Over 4,500 stroke survivors got involved and celebrated their recovery at one of many organised Step Out for Stroke walks.