A pilot project involving researchers at The University of Nottingham is aiming to assist more stroke survivors to return to work.
Academics in the University’s Division of Rehabilitation and Ageing
have teamed up with NHS community healthcare provider Nottingham Citycare Partnership
to offer stroke survivors in the city access to specialist vocation-focused rehabilitation.
They hope to increase the number of stroke patients returning to employment — where possible with their existing employer.
Dr Kate Radford, who will evaluate the success of the one-year project, said: “Although it is an illness most often associated with older people, around one-quarter of all people who suffer a stroke every year are actually of working age. Currently, less than half of stroke survivors — just 44% —return to employment.
“With the age at which you can claim a state pension going up, this may have an impact on the number of people who are in a position to take early retirement. For financial reasons many people who have suffered a stroke need to return to work.”
Specialist tailored rehabilitation
Under the new project, being led by Nottingham Citycare Partnership stroke specialist Jane Terry, an occupational therapist (OT) will start working with patients as soon as possible after their stroke. The OT will carry out detailed assessments of the person, their job and their workplace and deliver specialist rehabilitation tailored to the patient’s specific needs.
The OT will act as a case coordinator to provide support, education and advice to patients, their family and a range of other stakeholders such as employers, NHS professionals, specialist stroke rehabilitation services, social services, and Jobcentre Plus staff including Disability Employment Advisors (DEA).
Patients will be seen initially in hospital but most of the interventions will take place in the home, workplace or out in the community as often as is required.
The specialist rehabilitation will include finding practical strategies to lessen the impact of stroke, for example using memory aids or pacing techniques to manage tiredness and fatigue and supporting patients’ reintegration into the community such as training in the use of public transport.
The OT will also offer assistance with preparing for work, for example helping patients to establish structured routines with gradually increased activity levels and the opportunity to practise skills integral to their job such as concentrating on a computer screen for extended periods.
The therapist will also liaise with employers, tutors or employment advisers to advise about the effects of stroke and to plan and monitor a phased return to work in the same role or more suitable role depending on the needs and capabilities of the stroke survivor.
The intervention was developed and tested in a Return to Work After Stroke feasibility study run by the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) Collaboration for Leadership in Applied Health Research and Care covering Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire and Lincolnshire (CLAHRC-NDL)
. The CLAHRC is a partnership between the University of Nottingham and a number of NHS organisations across the three counties.
The Return to Work After Stroke study, which recruited 46 patients from Derbyshire, looked at gaps in existing services for stroke survivors in supporting them back into work and then developed the specialist intervention to assess whether it could improve outcomes for those stroke survivors wishing to return to employment.
Although only a small feasibility study – which set out to determine whether the intervention could be delivered and measured, it gave an early indication on its potential success, showing that with the OT’s support more stroke survivors returned to work than those patients who only accessed current NHS services.
The new pilot study in Nottingham has been welcomed by Marita Jenkinson, who suffered a stroke in her 30s and who struggled to return to her job as a beauty therapist.
She said: “It’s encouraging how through this programme stroke survivors can receive a thorough, caring and beneficial rehabilitation specific to their needs. I’m glad to see the inclusion of information and education for stroke survivors, family and employers, as it is important that the employer has an understanding of what they might expect to see from their stroke survivor employee. Similarly the participant needs to know what symptoms are normal post stroke.
“It is also important to have psychological support throughout the period of intervention for family and participants as over time stroke symptoms change and some problems disappear, while others arise.”
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottinghamhas 42,000 students at award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. It was ‘one of the first to embrace a truly international approach to higher education’, according to the Sunday Times University Guide 2013. It is also one of the most popular universities among graduate employers, one of the world’s greenest universities, and winner of the Times Higher Education Award for ‘Outstanding Contribution to Sustainable Development’. It is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 75 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong and the QS World Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to the most recent Research Assessment Exercise. The University aims to be recognised around the world for its signature contributions, especially in global food security, energy & sustainability, and health. The University won a Queen’s Anniversary Prize for Higher and Further Education for its research into global food security.
Impact: The Nottingham Campaign, its biggest ever fundraising campaign, will deliver the University’s vision to change lives, tackle global issues and shape the future. More news…
This year The University of Nottingham is raising funds to support stroke rehabilitation research. The Vice-Chancellor and a team of cyclists including Marion Walker, Professor in Stroke Rehabilitation, will be participating in Life Cycle 3, which involves cycling 1100 miles through major cities and capitals in the UK and Republic of Ireland. Professor Walker will be supported on the last leg (55 miles) by members of her team, including Helen Taylor, Dr Kate Radford, Dr Rebecca Fisher, and Dr Laura Condon. They are hoping to raise £300,000 for stroke research.
If you would like to donate or sponsor Marion go to her JustGiving page and donate online:
For further information: www.nottingham.ac.uk/lifecycle
About the National Institute for Health Research
The National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is funded by the Department of Health to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. Since its establishment in April 2006, the NIHR has transformed research in the NHS. It has increased the volume of applied health research for the benefit of patients and the public, driven faster translation of basic science discoveries into tangible benefits for patients and the economy, and developed and supported the people who conduct and contribute to applied health research. The NIHR plays a key role in the Government’s strategy for economic growth, attracting investment by the life-sciences industries through its world-class infrastructure for health research. Together, the NIHR people, programmes, centres of excellence and systems represent the most integrated health research system in the world. For further information, visit the NIHR website. The views expressed in this news release are those of the authors and not necessarily those of the NHS, the NIHR or the Department of Health.