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Monday, October 12, 2009

Communicating confidence

A NEW project is helping people gain a greater insight into those living with aphasia. Health Reporter Helen Rae finds out more.

Speech and language therapist Kath Mumby aims to help stroke patients 'get their life back'

A NEW project is helping people in Tyneside who have suffered a stroke to get back to everyday life and improve the way they communicate.

Aphasia is a condition which impairs people’s ability to communicate and is caused by brain damage suffered from stroke.

It can affect all aspects of communication including speech, understanding what is said, reading, writing and sometimes numbers.

Many people benefit from speech and language therapy to help their recovery after a stroke, but often they also need help to adjust long term in everyday life.

This is where CHANT comes in.

The name Communication Hub for Aphasia in North Tyneside was chosen by the very people the project aims to help.

CHANT is funded through North Tyneside Council and is run by Kath Mumby, a speech and lang-uage therapist with North Tyneside Primary Care Trust and Sarah Taylor, a communication support coordinator for The Stroke Association.

Dr Mumby said: “The aim is to support people with long-term aphasia after stroke, and their partners or carers, to help them adjust to their communication problems and ‘get their life back’.

“But to be a real success the project needs volunteers.

“We want to use the skills of people with aphasia as they are the experts.

“With support they help train volunteers and other key people in North Tyneside to have increased insight into aphasia and how to help communication.

“There are no particular qualifications for volunteering: just the ability to be a good listener.”

Volunteers are trained to offer both one-to-one and group support. They help people make the first steps to further independence, or encourage them at home.

CHANT offers group and individual support for people returning to real life activities in terms of work vocation and leisure. To achieve this CHANT runs short courses to give people confidence and skills before trying something new. Volunteers may also support people trying to use existing services such as libraries and adult learning courses.

Dr Mike Guy, medical director for NHS North of Tyne, said: “Stroke is the third leading cause of death and the single largest cause of adult disability in England.

“In the event of someone suffering a stroke we have a range of services in the North of Tyne area delivered by specialist staff to treat and rehabilitate patients in hospital and rehabilitation units.

“When a patient is ready to return home, they will be able to access rehabilitation and support in their own home.”

If you want to volunteer contact Dr Katharyn Mumby on 07554 334 981 or email Katharyn.Mumby@northumbria-healthcarenhs.uk or Sarah Taylor on 07534 915 763 or email sarah.taylor@stroke.org.uk.

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