Member of the Welsh Parliament for Monmouth, Nick Ramsay, contributed to a Members’ debate last week on care and support for stroke survivors.
Speaking in the Chamber Nick said: “The impact of stroke can be considerable, not just for the patient, but also for their family, in ways that can be challenging and terrifying, particularly at this time of the pandemic and lockdown. Many people will experience a range of consequences after having a stroke: the physical challenges of fatigue and paralysis in those cases where mobility is impaired, cognitive changes affecting memory, communication and concentration, and the psychological impact of depression and anxiety. Many recover, but others don't, and, as we know, the impact is dependent on the range of consequences that an individual experiences, and for how long those challenges will remain.
“Colleagues will also talk about the range of care and support needed for those who have a stroke, and rightly so. But one of the areas of this debate that also causes me concern is the level of support for those who find themselves quite unexpectedly caring for a loved one who's had a stroke, particularly given the current restrictions and the current difficulties of accessing support, including language therapy. It's hard to imagine the sense of shock when a family member has a stroke, the feeling of panic and worry as someone is admitted to hospital and having to face a future life with a potentially different set of expectations. Suddenly being thrust into the role of carer, having to manage the range of consequences that that loved one will experience, plus potentially life-changing implications for the family, financial concerns—all of these affect families of sufferers of strokes. For family members it can be truly daunting, which is why the support offered by groups like Chepstow stroke club in my constituency is so important for supporting families. How many people in Wales are now caring for someone living with the consequences of stroke, and how do we support the needs of those without whom that caring role could not be provided? Are we doing well enough in providing all that we can to those who care for a loved one, and, if not, why not?”
Nick continued: “Whilst I'm very supportive of this debate today to allow us to explore the support and care for those who experience strokes, we should be mindful that it is one of those big public health indicators that ought to concern us. There are a number of factors that contribute to a stroke, as has been cited—high blood pressure is one of them. Often that's linked to lifestyle choices, and we know, during the pandemic at the moment, the importance of people exercising and making sure that they're keeping well.
“In conclusion, we have to get better at radically responding to this public health challenge. If COVID has taught us anything, it's that we need to take the past 10 months as a wake-up call. Public health has to be a bigger focus in the next Welsh parliamentary term. People's lifestyle choices aren't just freedoms without consequence—we're continuing to suffer the impact of the decisions we take about our own health, and, sadly, for many, a stroke is that consequence. Let's make sure that we give sufferers of stroke and their families the support they need at this time as we, hopefully, come out of the pandemic.”