New Stroke Team Gets Off to a Flying Start

Around 200 stroke patients in Forth Valley have benefitted from a range of services from the START team recently celebrated its first anniversary.

These include being able to undergo rehabilitation at home, with the same expertise that they would receive from a specialist team in hospital.

The START programme (Stroke Transition and Rehabilitation Team) includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists, a therapy assistant practitioner, a speech and language therapist, a neuro psychologist, supported by a Consultant from NHS Forth Valley’s Stroke Service. Patients who have been admitted to hospital following a stroke are now given information about the START service to explain how it works and the range of therapeutic support it offers. Most people are very keen to access support from the team when they realise they can have equivalent care at home.

Juliet Molteno, Stroke Specialist Physiotherapist with the START team, explained: “Many people are particularly pleased to be on the road to recovery in their own home where they are familiar with where everything is, rather than trying to re-adapt to simple everyday tasks in a hospital setting. Some of the more subtle effects of stroke, such as poorer eyesight and communication difficulties, can be very hard to overcome. We have had a terrific response from some of our patients who have reported very positive outcomes.”

Examples of patient feedback include:

“I really needed to talk about my stroke, the team always listened and offered advice and therapy to get me where I am today. It wasn’t only me affected, my wife and 9-year-old daughter were also affected, and the team took the time to involve them both in my recovery. My daughter is doing a presentation at school on stroke awareness. I am in a better place now and have the tools to finish the job from START – this is an invaluable service.”  

“I’ve been blown away by the service: they have been so positive and encouraging.”

“After returning home from hospital, it made a big difference to have a professional visit me at home to get me back to normal.”

The START team works closely with the Acute Stroke Unit at Forth Valley Royal Hospital and the Bellfield Centre at Stirling Health and Care Village which is already making a difference in terms of how long people need to stay in hospital. And the team has set themselves new goals to expand their expertise by attending the UK stroke forum, and aiming to host prestigious, highly skilled neuro therapy training from BBTA (British Bobath Tutors Association). They are also examining the potential of setting up a clinic to enable patients to access specific specialist rehabilitation equipment.

NHS Forth Valley’s Stroke Service delivers Stroke and TIA care (Transient Ischemic Attack) to the population of 300,000. Each year, around 500 people are admitted to Forth Valley Royal Hospital with acute stroke and a further 200 attend the outpatient TIA service.