Life after Stroke: the Conversation Partner Scheme
By Kimberly Bond
For people suffering after a stroke, life can be very difficult. But a scheme that helps both Aphasia patients and professionals understand the route to recovery is starting to become a success.
The Conversation Partner scheme, which was started in the UK by the Communication Disability network ‘Connect’ in 2006, uses trained volunteers to support Aphasia sufferers in their own home.
Aphasia is a communication disorder often caused by Stroke –affecting one in three stroke survivors. It affects the sufferer’s ability to speak, read and write, sometimes leaving them with little or no speech at all.
Dr Simon Horton is a lecturer in the Faculty of Health at the University of East Anglia in Norwich, and is one of the chief organisers of the scheme. The University was the first site to train their students in the scheme, which is now a national network of more than 20 in the UK and Ireland.
The programme sees all first year Speech and Language therapy students at the University go into the homes of Aphasia sufferers to provide them with stimulating conversation once a week for six months.
Dr Horton said: “The scheme is based on evidence that people suffering from Stroke and Aphasia are vulnerable to isolation- as they are typically elderly and often have physical disabilities. This means they are unable to get out and access the stroke treatments and clubs available in the community, which are normally run by the Stroke Association.”