Stroke strikes one Canadian every 10 minutes and with our population growing and aging, it is expected that the number of people needing stroke rehabilitation and other forms of post-stroke support will increase. To ensure the best possible outcomes for stroke patients in the community, the Waterloo Wellington Community Care Access Centre (WWCCAC) launched its unique community stroke program in 2014.
The Community Stroke Program was named a leading practice by Accreditation Canada, a third party organization that evaluates the quality and safety of health care organizations.
The WWCCAC stroke team has worked to build positive partnerships across the continuum of care; between Care Coordinators, hospitals, external service providers, and community-based stroke services in order to deliver a best-practice Community Stroke Program to Waterloo Wellington Region.
The Community Stroke Program integrates designated care coordinators, both in hospital and in the community, using a consolidated service provider model to create community stroke teams that work together to design and deliver services according to the patient's specific requirements. The team includes occupational therapists, physiotherapists, rehab assistants, dieticians, social workers, and speech and language pathologists who work closely together and with each patient to reach individual goals and begin the integration back into the community and everyday life.
Throughout the process, patients and families also play an integral role on the team, helping to define goals based on what is important to the patient and their family. As one care coordinator puts it, "We're looking at whatever the patient considers a meaningful task. If that patient's goal is to get out and walk the dog, that's what we're going to focus on."
Through the Community Stroke Program, connections with community agencies that provide stroke support services or resources, such as the YMCA and Stroke Recovery Canada, have also been formalized. Playing a senior leadership role on the Waterloo Wellington Stroke Steering Committee, these innovators created the vision of the stroke program, displaying an incredible amount of vision and dedication: they knew what needed to be done in order to transform the stroke care system and improve patient experience and they worked together to make it happen.
The stroke team continues to sit on these committees for continuous quality improvement of the system and is working hard to make further enhancements to the program. On average, stroke patients experienced a statistically significant, 10-point increase in their ability to perform basic activities of daily living including: eating, dressing, toilet use, navigating stairs and general mobility, after a 12 week period.
What does this mean? For Cedric Thorne, 71, and his wife Esmie, it meant that Cedric was able to return home after a stroke left him unable to walk, communicate or eat on his own.
Participating in the Community Stroke program helped Cedric re-learn how to speak and eat independently. Today, Cedric who returned home house bound, joins his wife to run daily errands and enjoys being outside in the fresh air.
"I would never have been able to manage in those early days without the help of the Waterloo Wellington CCAC, I would have had to put Cedric in a home which is not what either of us wanted." says Elsie Thorne.
Read more about Cedric's story.
Read the news release from Waterloo Wellington Local Health Integration Network (WWLHIN) on "Waterloo Wellington LHIN Recognized as a Provincial Leader in Stroke Care by Ontario Stroke Network".