Wednesday, October 23, 2019

Preventing heart disease and stroke, saving lives and promoting recovery and wellbeing in the west of Ireland

Patricia Hall, Cardiovascular Nurse Specialist at Croí, the Heart and Stroke Charity based in the west of Ireland, tells us about the history of the organisation that has recently become a member of the World Stroke Organization.

Patricia Hall (centre) with members of Croí's Stroke Support Group
Croí, established in Galway, Ireland in 1985 initially focused on the development of local and regional cardiac services and facilities, our mission has now shifted to cardiovascular disease prevention and rehabilitation, which encompasses stroke. Our goal is to prevent heart disease and stroke, save lives and promote recovery and wellbeing.

Each year approximately 10,000 people have a stroke-related event in Ireland, with an estimated 30,000 people living with disabilities as a result of a stroke. Our goals include raising awareness of the risk factors, signs of stroke and promote healthy lifestyles.

Stroke support services

Our experience in cardiovascular disease prevention has informed our development of stroke specific educational programmes and we support stroke survivors and family carers on their journey to live the best possible life after stroke. The Croí Heart and Stroke Centre provides a meeting place for people who have been affected by stroke – patients, family members, carers and friends, which enables them to come together and participate in various activities. While everyone’s experience of having a stroke is different, meeting other stroke survivors or caregivers who understand what they are going through can help with recovery. Making this connection can be vital – to learn more about stroke recovery options and to share the experiences of recovery from stroke.

Croí offers a range of stroke support services, which include:

·         Stroke support groups which meet in Galway and in Mayo.
o    Our stroke support groups meet once a month, coming together to participate in various activities including a chance to have fun, learn skills and meet new people. Whether it’s a listening ear or practical guidance and information, we support members in rebuilding their lives after stroke – regardless of where they are in the stroke journey.
o    Our stroke family carers’ group also meets separately throughout the year. Coming together to share experiences, reduce isolation and provide support to others in similar situations.

·         Specialised physical activity programmes and Yoga, designed specifically for those who have had a stroke.
·         Communication group run by a speech and language therapist for those with speech and communication difficulties following stroke.
·         Health and lifestyle educational programmes that focus on risk reduction.
·         Fun activities, like our summer day out, World Stroke Day event and Christmas party every year.

The aims of Croí’s stroke support group are:
·         To create a positive environment to meet others and share experiences.
·         To provide advice, education and support on stroke and good health.
·         To encourage participation in enjoyable activities beneficial to your wellbeing.
·         To provide information on how to access services local to you.
·         Peer support and friendship.

Additional activities this year included:
·         Roll out of the MyStroke Programme. This is a 4 week educational programme focused on risk reduction for stroke survivors and family/carers.
o    Topics included:- what is a stroke and how to prevent recurrence; dealing with emotions, self-esteem and intimacy after stroke; stroke specific exercise; healthy eating after stroke.

World Stroke Day
In recognition of World Stroke Day, Croí is hosting a Public Talk and Short Film screening to help raise awareness of stroke and offer information to stroke survivors.

This FREE event will start at 7pm on October 29th in the Croí Centre in Newcastle, Galway, and will include a talk by Dr. Tom Walsh, Stroke Specialist, Galway University Hospital and a local Galway stroke survivor, followed by a special screening of the award-winning documentary, A Tiny Spark.

As an independent not-for-profit organisation, our work is entirely funded from our own fundraising and revenue generating activities. For more information, please visit and follow Croí on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram at @croiheartstroke.

Croí Centre Galway Ireland

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