Your stroke stories can stop this devastating ailment
Stroke remains one of the most significant economic and social burdens in our community.
Despite the fact it is the second biggest cause of death and a leading cause of adult disability, the considerable needs of people who have had a stroke, their families and the health professionals who care for them remain shamefully underfunded, under-resourced and under-recognised.
This is a condition that strikes in an instant, without warning, and tears apart the fabric of the life it affects.
Stroke is so prevalent and so devastating that I wonder if everyone listened, first-hand, to the effects of a stroke – from trying to access early treatment to trying to access rehabilitation to trying to cope with life afterwards – maybe the case for more stroke units, more rehab services and adequate carer support might be heard.
If every single person understood the agony of having a loved one struck down without warning and then watched their slow struggle as they try to regain basic living skills in the absence of adequate support or services – amid financial devastation – maybe the stroke landscape would be different.
Or maybe stroke survivors and their families need to be heard.
Throughout July, the National Stroke Foundation is giving everyone the opportunity to talk and to listen. Beginning in Melbourne on 12 July and travelling to every state capital city in Australia, we are holding open community forums to hear about the needs, hopes and frustrations of the stroke community.
All stroke survivors and carers are invited. We want a diverse range of honest opinion. We want the raw, first-hand experiences of people who are directly affected by stroke.
We talk a great deal to the stroke community and every person who shares their story with us is helping us to advocate on behalf of the broader population affected by stroke. But this time we are trying something new with these gatherings – we want to create a two way conversation that can continue across the country.
The National Stroke Foundation has been working exclusively to improve stroke awareness, prevention, services and support since 1996. While there have been many improvements in that time progress is frustratingly slow and we feel, as we plan our direction in the next five years that an open invitation to the community to come and speak in the first person is an important step in this process.
The information we collect about the lives of people living with stroke will arm us with the knowledge we need to take our next steps. Stroke is a massive problem in Australia and we can do better by those who are affected by it.
We encourage every community member to join us in our mission to reduce the suffering caused by a disease which is very often preventable and eminently treatable. Stroke survivors and carers can find out more about where forums are or register for a forum right here.
Dr Erin Lalor is chief executive officer of the National Stroke Foundation.
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