May is Stroke Recovery Awareness Month


May marks Stroke Recovery Awareness Month in Ontario

Every ten minutes a Canadian will have a stroke.  There are over 300,000 stroke survivors in Canada. Stroke affects not only the survivor, but the entire family, loved ones and friends. Everyone has to learn to adjust to the ‘new normal’ which may include permanent physical disability, communication disorders such as aphasia and emotional difficulties, including depression.

Stroke Recovery Canada®, a program of March of Dimes Canada, helps stroke survivors across the country to more easily re-engage in their communities, and affirm that there is meaningful and quality life after a stroke.  With May designated as Stroke Recovery Awareness Month, March of Dimes has increased its efforts to educate the public about stroke recovery.  The program is a national service offering post-recovery support, education and programs for stroke survivors, their families and health care providers. Through its work with local peer support groups, March of Dimes offers survivors the tools to survive and thrive after a stroke. 

Peer support for stroke survivors provides emotional and practical support and enables a safe forum for sharing knowledge and experiences, hopes and concerns. In 2009 in the Waterloo/Wellington area, March of Dimes Canada began a pilot program for a specialized hospital visitation program – Linking Survivors with Survivors (LSWS).

This program helps to re-engage and re-integrate stroke survivors into the community in partnership with stroke recovery groups in their area.  LSWS is now held in Kitchener Waterloo, North Wellington, Guelph Wellington, and Cambridge and District, in partnership with Grand River Hospital Stroke Centre and South Regional Stroke Network. Today it facilitates 300+ hospital visits a year at six different hospitals in the area and feeds right into the network of support groups in the community. It is a peer support program providing hope and encouragement to survivors and their families both in the hospital and community 

As a result of the successes in the Waterloo-Wellington area, March of Dimes Canada joined the Transition Improvement for Continuing Care (TICC) project. TICC is a three-part program designed in conjunction with the Greater Toronto Area stroke networks to create a sustainable interconnected system of seamless, equitable planning and consistent care processes across the networks. 

From TICC, Peers Fostering Hope supported by the Dr. Ed & Bobby Yielding Fund for Stroke Recovery was born. Peers Fostering Hope supported by the Dr. Ed & Bobby Yielding Fund for Stroke Recovery has been made possible in part due to a large bequest left by Dr. Ed and Bobby Yielding. The gift of $220,000 will help continue the program for the next seven years. Bobby was a stroke survivor, and the family’s very generous gift will help other survivors to thrive in their recovery.

Peers Fostering Hope seeks to help bridge the gap between hospital and community. Peers Fostering Hope is currently underway at Sunnybrook, Humber, WestPark, St. John’s Rehabilitation Facility, Toronto Rehabilitation Facility, Toronto Western Hospital, and Lakeridge Health. 

Through hospital visits, and involvement with peer support groups, survivors feel more able to age at home and remain active in the community. Volunteers within the program also report a positive effect in their own lives by connecting new survivors to a meaningful life path post–stroke. The value of linking survivors with other survivors is evident, both for new and existing stroke survivors who serve as visitors and community volunteers.

For information or to join Stroke Recovery Canada call the Warmline® at 1-888-540-6666 or visit the Stroke Recovery Canada website at www.marchofdimes.ca/src. 

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