GPs and other health professionals will focus on improving the quality of care for stroke patients at the annual stroke study day in October. The event is being held in Christchurch and delivered jointly by the Stroke Foundation of New Zealand and the South Island Alliance’s stroke services team.
South Island-wide stroke services providers, stroke teams, GPs and practice nurses from across the continuum of care will learn about a wide range of stroke-specific topics, including the management of post-stroke depression, and the transition from hospital to home.
Dr Carl Hanger, geriatrician and stroke physician at Burwood Hospital in Christchurch and clinical senior lecturer in medicine at the University of Otago, Christchurch, is part of the team organising the event.
A key note speaker at previous study days, Dr Hanger says post-stroke depression is sometimes unrecognised and/or undertreated, which can affect the patient’s rehabilitation or ability to function longer term. “Around one in five stroke patients suffer from depression. So, from a GP’s point of view, it’s about recognising post-stroke depression and the best ways of treating it. The study day will cover strategies to manage post-stroke depression, both pharmaceutically and non-pharmaceutically, why it’s important to treat it, and the different options we have to manage depression.”
The number of people who experience a stroke is increasing due to an ageing population, he says. “While the average age for a stroke is 72 years old, 20-25 per cent of stroke sufferers are aged under 65. However, there is a decline of strokes overall, due to factors such as improved management of hypertension and cardiovascular health, as well as more people giving up smoking.”
Dr Hanger says many people who experience a stroke require daily support to make a full recovery, so making a successful transition from hospital to home is an essential part of the care provided. “How do we make it easier for stroke patients and support them to get back to a sense of normality in the community? It can be a difficult transition going from feeling safe and secure in hospital, to returning home. There are a variety of options to help, which we will be covering at the study day.”
A range of experts are speaking at the event, along with Dr Julia Slark, Senior Lecturer in nursing at Auckland University. Other presentation topics include best practice care of the shoulder and upper limb, as well as the advances in care and management of dysphagia – a condition which occurs with around 50 per cent of all strokes.