Healthcare staff given new training to improve care and rehabilitation of stroke patients in Croydon

A new training guide, created by a member of staff at Croydon Health Services NHS Trust (CHS), is helping healthcare assistants (HCAs) to fully understand the lasting effects of a stroke to give stroke patients in Croydon better care.

The step-by-step workbook, created by Paul Carr, a physiotherapy technical instructor on the specialist stroke unit at Croydon University Hospital, is now used alongside teaching and self-directed learning, with positive results to ‘upskill HCA staff.’

Hospital HCAs typically help nurses with patient activities of daily living, such as washing, dressing and feeding. Not all stroke healthcare assistants had prior knowledge of a stroke patient’s needs or stroke before this training.

HCAs at Croydon Health Services are now taught the science of what happens to the brain during a stroke, and also learn more about the devastating and long-term after-effects that can so-quickly change the lives of stroke patients and their loved ones around them.

Helping healthcare staff to better understand the physical and emotional effects is helping the Trust to improve its care for patients and overcome the language difficulties that can be caused by a stroke.

Paul Carr, who has worked for CHS for 15 years said: “Encouraged and supported by senior staff and consultants, I created this workbook to convey the essential skills and competencies of stroke care, to teach HCAs how to empower a stroke patient to be independent where possible, rather than dependent on their road to recovery.

“An example would be to encourage a patient to walk to the bathroom with support, instead of get pushed in a wheelchair, if a therapist has identified that this is possible. This type of activity aids a patient’s recovery.

“All stroke HCAs at CHS are now offered the opportunity to do this training, helping them to become patient rehabilitation assistants. Stroke units across the country could also benefit from a similar workbook approach to train healthcare and therapy assistants, ultimately improving the care of patients.”

HCAs who completed eight months of training, which included modules on brain anatomy and speech and language therapy, reported they feel more confident in
understanding the rehabilitation needs of a patient who has suffered a stroke and an enhanced understanding of how best to communicate with patients who have language difficulties caused by stroke.

Stroke patients at Croydon University Hospital can now benefit from having even more trained staff around them to provide specialist expertise. Our stroke HCAs are now able to help patients with therapy exercises, to aid recovery.

Mrs Shobah Vyas a former nurse, who spent two months on Croydon University Hospital’s stroke unit last year, after suffering a stroke in June said:

“I lost the use of my right side completely immediately after my stroke. I couldn’t walk and I couldn’t eat. The healthcare assistants on the ward as well as assisting with other things, helped with my speech therapy and physiotherapy, which was great.

“Staff were very busy with their work, so it was nice to have the addition of healthcare assistants to talk to, who had an understanding of what I was experiencing.