Integrate emotional support says stroke survivor

Earlier this week, Madame Oui (aka my awesome wife Beverley) went up to Parliament Buildings to address a group of MLAs at the Northern Ireland Assembly. It was a very positive and constructive meeting, resulting in some agreed steps forward (next stop: the Assembly’s Health Committee).

Beverley later remarked, “I’ve become a campaigner!” And one off to a great start. Watch out, here she comes.

Here is her first press statement:

20130531 Beverley NIA
Kieran McCARTHY MLA, Alan McDOWELL, Anna LO MLA, Tom RICHARDSON, and Beverley BEATTIE at Parliament Buildings, Stormont.

Integrate emotional support says stroke survivor
by Beverley Beattie
31 May 2013

On the back of an investigative report by the Stroke Association into the emotional impact of stroke, survivor Beverley Beattie told a group of elected representatives of the Northern Ireland Assembly that psychological and emotional support services should be integrated:

“There are two major dimensions of having a stroke — physical and emotional. The first appears well organised in Northern Ireland, from physio, occupational, and speech and language therapy.

“But I have discovered that emotional support comes much later, and it shouldn’t.

“I was fortunate with my community stroke team, but this shouldn’t be a postcode lottery, particularly for a relatively small place like Northern Ireland.”

Beverley called for the implementation of the approved regional stroke strategy, which includes adequately funding these supportive services:

“The community stroke team at Bangor Community Hospital is helping me, with a recovery approach of the Bridges Programme.

“I want to be sure that such services are available to everyone, regardless of where they happen to live in Northern Ireland.”

Accompanying Beverley was her husband, Allan Leonard, and Northern Ireland Director of the Stroke Association, Tom Richardson.

Allan highlighted an apparent disparity, whereby NHS psychological services are part of non-stroke, community brain injury teams, but not in stroke-based community stroke teams.

Allan called for this gap in provision to be closed:

“A brain injury is a brain injury, however it is caused, and all those who have had a brain injury will have psychological and emotional challenges to face.

“I don’t understand why brain injuries caused by stroke would be treated differently in this regard.

Tom Richardson added:

“The provision of clinical psychologists for the Stroke Services for Belfast as well as the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trusts are to be commended.

“We need to ensure that this is extended throughout the province, as it is vital for the quality of stroke survivors’ after-stroke recovery.

“Indeed, as Beverley has demonstrated the benefits of very positive and excellent practices here, there is no reason why we cannot connect the dots with the hospitals, GPs, community care and charity services throughout Northern Ireland.

“It really is a case of picking some low hanging fruit in order to achieve excellence in the full treatment of stroke injuries — physical and emotional — so that survivors like Beverley can reintegrate with satisfaction as fully contributing and productive members of society.”


The all-party group meeting at the Northern Ireland Assembly was held on Tuesday, 28 May 2013. Those attending included: Robin NEWTON MLA, Roy BEGGS MLA, Anna LO MLA, Kieran McCARTHY MLA, Alan McDOWELL, Tom RICHARDSON, Beverley BEATTIE and Allan LEONARD. Apologies were received from Conall McDEVITT MLA and Steven AGNEW MLA.

The report by the Stroke Association, “Feeling Overwhelmed: The Emotional Impact of Stroke”, is available for download:

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