Stroke Care: Symptoms, Impact and Support

Stroke affects millions of Britons every year. To raise awareness, here's our quick guide to spotting the symptoms and identifying the type of care and support stroke survivors may need.


Stroke affects millions of Britons every year. To raise awareness, here's our quick guide to spotting the symptoms and identifying the type of care and support stroke survivors may need.

Stroke is one of the leading causes of death and disability and according to the Stroke Association, there are over a million stroke survivors in the UK. For many people who survive a stroke, the physical and cognitive difficulties they experience afterwards can be life changing. In fact, statistics show that over 80% of these people need support with daily living once they are discharged from hospital.

As a homecare agency, we work with stroke survivors every day. We know how important early diagnosis and dedicated rehabilitation are for giving people the highest chance of survival and the best quality of life possible. That’s why we want to raise awareness of the condition and look at what support people might need to live well after a stroke.

What is a stroke?

Sometimes known as a ‘brain attack’ a stroke happens when there is a disruption in the blood flow to the brain. There are three main kinds of stroke:

  • Haemorrhagic stroke: where a blood vessel in the brain ruptures and bleeds out into the surrounding tissue.
  • Ischaemic stroke: the blood supply to the brain is disrupted by a blockage like a blood clot. This is the most common kind of stroke.
  • Transient Ischaemic Attack: other wise known as a TIA or ‘mini stroke’, this happens when there’s a very brief interruption to the blood supply to the brain. The person often returns to normal immediately after the TIA. This can mean that it is not taken as seriously as any other form of stroke. However, a TIA can be a warning sign of a bigger stroke to come, so should be treated as an emergency.

Diet and lifestyle play a large part in increasing risk factors for stroke. Health conditions like heart disease, diabetes, high blood pressure and high cholesterol are common contributary factors.

What are the symptoms of a stroke?

Symptoms like a sudden and extreme headache, confusion, numbness, difficulty speaking, sight loss, balance problems and weakness (particularly on one side of the body) can all be indicators of a stroke. It’s a medical emergency. Acting quickly could literally be the difference between life and death. 

You’ve probably seen the TV ads teaching the F.A.S.T. test, but if you’re not familiar with it, it’s really important to know. You can watch an example here or simply remember:

  • F is for FACE: does the person’s face look lopsided? Has their eye or mouth drooped on one side? Can they smile evenly?
  • A is for ARMS: can they life both arms up? Or do they have weakness on one side which makes movement difficult?
  • S is for SPEECH: are they slurring their words or having other problems with speaking?
  • T is for TIME: acting fast could save their life. Strokes need treating as quickly as possible. The longer they go without the right treatment the higher the risk of death or disability.

If someone shows these symptoms, it’s time to call 999.

For people who survive a stroke, life can be challenging. Strokes can cause a range of physical and cognitive problems like:

  • Memory problems
  • Muscle weakness
  • Fatigue
  • Incontinence
  • Speech and language difficulties
  • Depression and anxiety
  • Difficulty concentrating
  • Poor spatial awareness

Rehabilitation can be a long process and some people may never recover their former abilities. This can inevitably have a huge impact on someone’s quality of life.

What support do people need after a stroke?

Each person’s journey will be unique but there are some things that everyone will benefit from, including:

  • A full assessment of needs and bespoke recovery plan: care providers and other health professionals (like doctors, physiotherapists, speech therapists and dieticians) come together for a comprehensive evaluation to decide exactly what support the person needs to help them with day to day living.
  • Practical help: some people might get by with a little extra help from friends and family, others may need much more intensive support from healthcare professionals.  
  • Specialised equipment: from profiling beds and hoists to walking frames or communication aids, there’s a lot of technology and equipment that can help in the rehabilitation process.
  • Therapies: speech therapy and physiotherapy are commonly needed after a stroke to help someone regain motor and language skills. It can be encouraging for someone to have clear rehabilitation goals to work towards. Counselling and complimentary therapies like massage and relaxation techniques can also be beneficial.
  • Companionship and emotional support: the life-changes that stroke brings can be very hard to deal with. Having someone to listen and confide in can make a huge difference to the mental health of stroke survivors.

Stroke care in South London

At Bluebird Care have years of experience in helping people living with the after-effects of a stroke. If you or a family member would like more support to live well at home, get in touch to find out how our homecare services can help.