During the coronavirus pandemic, more of us have turned to technology to keep in touch with family and friends. But for lots of stroke survivors, especially those with communication difficulties including aphasia, getting online can be a struggle. This can leave them feeling lonely and isolated.

We worked with a group of stroke survivors, including Tess Lancashire, to develop a new guide called 'Getting online for people with aphasia'. The guide helps people to access technology so they can stay connected with loved ones and find support.

Tess has been living with aphasia since surviving a stroke 31 years ago.

'Aphasia is a real shock,' she said. 'You want to get your message out and have a conversation. When you realise that is not going to happen, it affects you psychologically.'

Determined to move forward, Tess did a technology course to help with her recovery. 'Even something like copy and paste, which might be easy for others, was difficult for me. I had to do the course three times to help me practise.'

Tess's experience inspired her to co-develop a computer access course for people with aphasia with City University, London. Learning how to use tools like social media, email and video calling, helps people's recovery, improves their confidence, and makes it easier for them to communicate with family and friends.

'I think lockdown would be very different for me if I did not use technology,' said Tess. 'I have been using Zoom for meetings and catching up with friends. I can't imagine what it must be like for some people during this tough time.

'People with aphasia are capable and intelligent. Aphasia should not limit you, but sometimes you need help. I'm pleased with 'Getting online for people with aphasia'. I think it is important to have a guide that people can use to practice and get support.

'If you are new to technology or are starting to relearn, remember - don't panic! Just go at your own pace, and focus on the sections that you need.'

Tips for carers supporting people with aphasia to get online:

  • Make time to work through the guide. Be patient, let the person with aphasia set the pace.
  • Take regular breaks.
  • Help practise by repeating tasks. Demonstrate what to do and support if needed.
  • Be encouraging and stay positive.

Find out more

Get the full guide here. Or call 01604 687 724 to order a print copy.

Stroke News magazine

This article is featured in the summer 2020 edition of our magazine, Stroke News. Subscribe to our future editions available in print, on audio CD, or via email.