Last fall I was asked if I would consider being a facilitator for a combined project with March of Dimes Canada and Heart and Stroke Canada called “Living With Stroke”. It is a project that hit a nerve. I’ve been doing peer visits on stroke units for years with March of Dimes “Peers Fostering Hope” now called “Hospital Visitation Program (HVP). But with covid restrictions we can’t get on the floor of the stroke units to see newly diagnosed patients and their families.
I did a few virtual visits, they’re not as good as in person but it’s better than nothing.
One good thing about covid was realizing with communications like Zoom we can reach out to stroke survivors and their families in smaller communities all over Canada.
So, for me the program checks all the boxes. I started training in the fall. The program is interactive over 8 weeks, with hour and a half long sessions. During the program the discussions cover all types of stroke, the importance of your stroke team, rehab, caregivers, and taking ownership for your recovery. The best part is sharing stories, experiences, and learning from each other. Most importantly to support each other.
The virtual program was launched 28th of January. It was special and emotional for me. To see and hear from stroke survivors and a care givers is something I didn’t realize how much I missed.
Doing peer support I’ve learned so much about stroke from stroke survivors, more than anyone can from books. There is always a caveat, “What worked for someone else might not work for you. Always talk to your health care professionals before making any changes.”
Over the next several weeks we will present the sessions and as we go along look for ways to improve, listening to feedback from the participants. There are many people that have worked on this project and continue to work behind the scenes to make sure the program will make a difference. The goal is making the program available nationwide.
At some point I’m looking forward to doing the program in person. I’ll keep you posted on the next session schedule.