Stroke support group grows

Recipient of the Great achievement after stroke award, Juliana van Wyk, and Errol Baard, chairperson of the Strand Stroke Rehabilitation Group. .

The Helderberg Stroke Support Group (HSSG) has been assisting stroke survivors and their families in the Helderberg Basin for 25 years and has also established a new stroke rehabilitation group in Grabouw this year.

A function was held at the Strand town hall on Friday November 23 to celebrate this milestone. Besides group members, various counsellors, representatives from other NGOs, health services, donors and “friends” of HSSG attended the function. Ncikazi Nyoka from the Department of Social Development and Helen Sammons, medical manager of the Western Cape Rehabilitation Centre, were the guest speakers.

Various awards were presented, among which were certificates for founder members, long service awards, awards for encouraging and inspiring others and for “great achievements” after stroke.

This award went to Juliana van Wyk in recognition of her courageous effort in overcoming numerous obstacles after having her right leg amputated and having had several strokes, and to Errol Baard in recognition of the manner in which he has stepped out and embraced his role as chairperson of the Strand stroke rehabilitation group.

Special recognition was also given to taxi owners and drivers who assist in transporting group members from their homes to venues where they receive weekly therapy.

From small beginnings, the organisation has grown to the extent that it has established seven community rehabilitation groups Strand Gustrouw, Lwandle /Nomzamo /Zola; Strand (Sencit); Strand (Spescare); Sir Lowry’s Pass Village; Macassar; and Grabouw.

The HSSG focuses on a number if areas.

Rehabilitation: With assistance from local taxi services, stroke survivors are collected at home and taken to a central venue within their community where they receive therapy on a weekly basis. Therapists (occupational /physio /speech /psychologists) with a special interest in stroke rehabilitation run these groups with the assistance of trained volunteers.

Advocacy for stroke survivors and people with disabilities.

Training of home based carers, nursing staff, family of stroke survivors and volunteers who are interested in assisting stroke survivors in their communities.

Stroke prevention: A new project HSSG has started is to work with local schools to educate the youth on risk factors for stroke.

Group members were recently asked to rate the impact of attendance of HSSG community groups on their lives. Comments from members give an illustration of the positive impact that the HSSG programme is having:

“Was baie swak toe ek hier kom. Was ook vasgevang in minderwaardigheid. Ek is nie meer minderwardig nie. Kan baie meer vir myself doen – sterk baie mooi aan.”

“Die oefeninge help my om elke dag op te staan.”

“Groep hou jou fiks en kan baie meer vir jouself doen agv die oefeninge.”

“Dit het vir my baie gehelp. Toe ek by die groep aangesluit het kon ek niks vir myself doen nie – dit het fisies gehelp. Ek is baie gelukkig, ek wil baie dankie sê aan die terapeute, assistente, kollegas, ek waardeer dit baie.”

“Ek voel baie beter van dat ek by die groep aangesluit het om rede ek nie meer daardie bang gevoel het nie en kan op my bene staan.”

“Seeing that I’m not a stroke patient, (but a family member) it is good to see how survivors make progress in their rehabilitation. The group is a good foundation for those who are not fortunate enough to get private help. It is good not just for physical recovery, but for their mental recovery as well.”

The launch of the Grabouw stroke rehabilitation group has created an awareness of the need for support groups to be established in neighbouring towns.

For the past 25 years, the focus of the HSSG has been very much on the Helderberg Basin, but as they “step” into the future, the organisation has a vision of “The Helderberg and Beyond”. The organisation relies heavily on donations and further growth will, to a large extent, depend on resources available.

For more information, call 021 852 8233 or 079 6128903.