Claire has been a Stroke Supporter Coordinator in the Fylde and Wyre area for almost five years. She tells us how her job has changed during the coronavirus pandemic.

“It has changed a lot. I'm not driving around Blackpool, Fylde and Wyre; I'm not visiting the hospital and I’m not doing any home visits at the moment. Most of my work is now using the phone and giving people a call.

We are often the first people that stroke survivors see after they come out of hospital. It’s sometimes the first bit of support they get. We help them identify the practical and emotional support and information they may need.

It is a lot harder now if the survivor has got aphasia and they can't communicate very well. I usually rely on facial expressions and gestures. Sometimes I suggest they have someone with them if they're struggling. Otherwise, the key thing is being patient and giving them time to get across what they want to say.

Even though we can’t see people in person, it’s really important the Stroke Association is there to offer support for people practically and emotionally. I’ve said to people, “Just ring me. You’ve got my number. If you just want to chat to me because you’re on your own, just me a ring. I’ll be happy to talk to you.” I’d rather somebody ring me – and it might be something I can’t help them with or it might be nothing to do with the stroke, but I’d rather they ring me than sit on their own and be worrying or crying or upset, and they don’t know who to turn to. We understand stroke, we understand the effects and the toll it takes.

I think people are frightened of burdening the NHS at the moment, but they absolutely need to get help. Otherwise, they could be ignoring the signs and end up with a more severe disability than they would have had if they'd been seen.”

As a charity we’re working harder than ever to support the NHS. We’re boosting our current services and developing new ways of supporting people to rebuild their lives after stroke during these difficult times. Now more than ever, we need you.

As everyone continues to be impacted by the coronavirus crisis, our income is falling. Meanwhile, stroke survivors need more from us in terms of emotional and practical support. Stroke survivors are leaving hospital sooner – and as people continue to isolate, we need to find new ways to help.

Please make a donation if you can, so that we can give every stroke survivor – and our NHS – the support they desperately need to make it through this difficult time.

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