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New service for stroke patients

11 July 2013

Health Care

Leaving hospital following a stroke can be a daunting prospect for patients and their carers. While they relish the thought of being back in familiar surroundings with all their home comforts, they may miss the security of knowing professionals are at hand.

A newly-launched service is designed to reassure and support them and get them back to normal life more quickly. The early supported discharge (ESD) team is a joint project set up by South Essex Partnership Trust (SEPT) with Southend University Hospital and the clinical commissioning groups in Castle Point and Rochford and Southend.

Southend consultant Dr Tony O'Brien, the East of England stroke lead, said: "Stroke patients want to get out of hospital as soon as possible. Providing rehabilitation care in their homes is better psychologically and reduces disability."

The team - which includes a consultant, nurse, occupational therapist, physiotherapist, speech and language therapist with access to a psychologist - provides a two-week service for those with slight to moderate difficulties following their stroke. Within 24 hours of leaving hospital, suitable patients will be visited at home by a qualified therapist and a rehabilitation plan put in place.

Patients will receive up to 45 minutes of daily therapy, Monday to Friday, for the next two weeks. If additional support is then still needed, they will be referred to the community therapy service.

In the past, it was not unusual for stroke patients to stay in hospital for up to three months. Thanks to its celebrated acute stroke unit, Southend University Hospital has already reduced its length of stay to 12 days, and the disability rate for stroke patients has also decreased dramatically: the number of patients who now walk out of hospital following a stroke has risen from 33% to 60%.

This is due to improvements including:

  • A seven-day stroke service with input from specialist doctors, radiographers and occupational therapists as well as superb support from vascular surgeons
  • A seven-day transient ischaemic attack (TIA) or 'mini stroke' service for patients suffering stroke symptoms.

In line with these improvements this community based service managed by SEPT will continue to enhance local stroke services.

Dr O'Brien said: "The newly-established early supported discharge service can only improve stroke services locally even more. We are delighted that our patients will benefit from this professional help in their own homes and are sure it will be highly valued and very effective."


For more information about the ESD team, contact 01702 606954 or the stroke coordinator on 07949 505944.