Carer adds her voice to stroke campaign

Paula and John Smejka, from Navenby. EMN-161006-174946001
Paula and John Smejka, from Navenby. EMN-161006-174946001

A local carer has spoken of her experiences as new figures reveal that over three quarters of carers for people affected by stroke in the East Midlands are potentially going without vital support and benefits.

The Stroke Association’s latest campaign and petition, A New Era for Stroke, calls on the Government to commit to a new stroke strategy. The charity is warning that stroke survivors will otherwise be denied access to the support they need, putting carers at risk of additional strain.

The charity’s latest survey of over 1,100 stroke survivors, carers and professionals has found that over three quarters (77 per cent) of carers did not receive a carer’s assessment, which provides access to practical, emotional and financial support. Almost a third of carers said they did not feel prepared when the person they cared for was discharged from hospital.

Paula Smejka, from Navenby, supported her husband John, 59, after he had a stroke on Christmas Day, 2011. When John had a stroke it left him with communication difficulties and weakness on his right side, meaning he was no longer able to work.

Fiancée of three months, Paula, gave up her job as an administrator to care for him. John and Paula still got married the following year and were well supported by therapists when he was discharged from hospital, but Paula didn’t receive a carer’s assessment.

Paula said: “Every day when the therapy assistant visited, she would make a point of asking me how I was. It made a huge difference, which I only realised when the visits stopped and I really missed them. It also made a huge difference to John. We were very lucky and I would encourage everyone to sign the petition, to ensure other carers receive the same level of support.”

Paula adds: “I never realised how destructive stroke is, the shocking truth is very difficult to take.”

Julia MacLeod, Regional Director at the Stroke Association, said many stroke victims’ families become unpaid carers overnight, let down by a lack of support or training. To sign the petition, visit: www.stroke.org.uk/petition.