According to the World Stroke Campaign, someone dies every 5 seconds because of stroke and the Intercollegiate Stroke Working Party 2015 reported that one million stroke survivors needed post-acute care in England and Wales alone.
Nurses play a vital role in caring for stroke patients. With the goal of reducing morbidity and mortality, nurses are responsible for physiological monitoring and continuous assessment to maintain homeostasis. Stroke nurses must have an excellent understanding of the aetiology of the disease to prevent complications such as lesion extension, cerebral oedema and recurrent stroke. Ultimately, with the right treatment and care, nurses along with the rest of the multidisciplinary team, facilitate the recovery of stroke patients.
We interviewed Marthe, a Stroke Ward Sister working in one of the NHS hospitals in England. She shares her views about working in a Stroke Unit, and why she loves working here despite the challenges she has encountered.
My name is Marthe and I work as a Band 6 Nurse in the Stroke Ward. When I arrived at my Trust, they asked me which ward I wanted to work in. Being a trained paediatric nurse in the Philippines, I’m not really sure what to pick at the time so I let them choose for me. As the Stroke Unit was short-staffed, I was assigned there and my journey as a Stroke Ward Nurse began.
Oftentimes, a stigma associated with the Stroke Unit is the heavy workload that nurses and HCAs have to carry out on a daily basis. I wouldn’t deny this. I think that the physical demand of the job is the biggest challenge of working in a Stroke Unit. Patients can be in a coma or have extreme limb weakness that needs regular turning. Although we have equipment available for manual handling, we still need to exert effort to move patients. Aside from the labour-intensive aspect of the job, you should also be a keen learner because it is a specialised unit. Armed with your knowledge in general nursing, you should also broaden your understanding and be proficient in looking after stroke patients.
On the other hand, cliche as it may sound, the best part of working as a Stroke Nurse is being able to see the progress of our patients. Patients usually stay long-term in our ward. They will be admitted with paralysis or weakness of one or more sides of the body and will need lots of support and care. We help them recuperate as they undergo therapy and finally see them regain their strength. For me, I felt that I have been a part of their journey to their wellness and have made a difference in somebody else’s life.
Hard work and determination are the key aspects of being successful in this area of nursing. I have become a Band 6 sister after two years of working as a staff nurse. My colleagues pushed me to go for this post as they have seen my abilities and my passion for caring for my patients. At first, I thought being a Stroke Nurse will be a burden to me but surprisingly I absolutely love it. I enjoy working in the Stroke Unit, not because of my promotion but the feeling of fulfilment as my patients become better and stronger under my care.