Northern Devon Healthcare NHS Trust officially opens its new acute stroke unit next week (wef 16 May), to coincide with Stroke Awareness Week.
Staff are also urging local people to act quickly if they suspect someone has had a stroke – one of the commonest causes of hospital admission.
Around 150,000 people suffer stroke every year in the UK. Many die as a result, and many more suffer long-term disability. Around 300 people a year – nearly one every day – end up in North Devon District Hospital as a result of stroke.
The new 10-bed unit will be opened by Sue Nyfield, Stroke Association Trustee, on Thursday 15 May.
Its opening means stroke patients now benefit from being assessed and treated in a dedicated ward by a multi-disciplinary team, including nurses, physiotherapists, occupational therapists, dieticians, speech therapists and doctors.
Once the patient’s condition is stable, they are transferred to Bideford Community Hospital for further specialist and intensive rehabilitation. In future, the Trust plans to extend this rehabilitation into the community to support earlier discharge from hospital for patients.
Thursday’s opening will be accompanied by displays in the main foyer of the hospital and in the community hospitals across Northern Devon.
Staff also want to help people get help as quickly as possible if they do suffer a stroke, and to think how they and their families can avoid having a stroke in the future.
If you suspect that someone is having a stroke, you need to act FAST, by checking symptoms:
- Facial weakness – can the person smile? Has their mouth or eye drooped?
- Arm weakness – can the person raise both arms?
- Speech problems – can the person speak clearly and understand what you say?
- Test all three symptoms.
If they have any of these symptoms, get them to hospital as quickly as possible.
Even better in the long term is to adopt a lifestyle that minimises the risks of having a stroke. The best things to do are to:
- Stop smoking – the NHS can help
- Drink sensibly – no more than two or three units of alcohol a day, and avoid bingeing
- Eat healthily – more fruit and fibre, less fat and salt
- Take more exercise – try to make it part if the daily routine, as even walking does you good
- Get your blood pressure checked, tackle stress and keep medical conditions such as high blood pressure and diabetes under control
Karen Fasey, who manages the new stroke unit, said: “We’re really pleased to have a top-class unit for people who suffer strokes. That means we can do as good a job as possible in caring for people who come into hospital.
“But the key to good health is really in everyone’s hands. We’d much rather people avoided having strokes altogether, because even with the best care the results can be devastating.
“And we can only treat people when they get here. So please do use the FAST technique if you think someone might have had a stroke, and get them to hospital as quickly as possible.”
Reporters and photographers are invited to the opening at 3pm on 15 May, in the Therapy Room, Level 1 (Adjacent to the Stroke Unit), NDDH.