May is Stroke Awareness Month and, although having had a couple of strokes I am more aware than most, it is always good to have a reminder of the signs to look out for.
The usual stroke screening tool is FAST – Face, Arms, Speech, Time – but it is also important to consider balance and eye assessments too. So, you actually want to…
BEFAST – Balance, Eyes, Face, Arms, Speech, Time
I didn’t give strokes much consideration before having one and thought they happened to older people (not someone in their 40s who was relatively healthy and fit). However, it turns out strokes are very common and, while most people that have strokes are over 65, 1 in 4 strokes happen in younger people.
I walked away from my strokes relatively unscathed which isn’t the case for all. Although for some there are no obvious physical signs, the impact on mental health can be huge and scary.
It was important for me to return to work after my strokes, not just for financial reasons but for a sense of normality for me and my family. Fortunately on both occasions my employers have been caring and understanding, making the return easy.
With the rise in the number of people of working age having a stroke, employers need to consider what they offer their staff in order for them to return to work in a way that suits both the individual employee and the employer. Employee benefits such as private medical insurance and critical illness cover are important, but consideration also needs to be given to the actual day to day activities at work and both the physical and mental health aspect of returning to work after illness.
Vidett offered me a phased return to work without pressure or expectations, along with other benefits such as wellbeing support in the form of mental health support and family friendly policies. I knew who to contact with any queries and never felt that requests or questions were dismissed. Any changes to my needs in the office and when working from home since my strokes were quickly taken into consideration and are regularly reviewed. All this gave me the confidence to return to work.
The team at Vidett have also been so supportive in raising money for charity including Different Strokes which is amazing and really appreciated not only by me but by the charity too. Also, discussing the topic at work has made me realise more colleagues than I expected know someone of working age or younger who has had a stroke and that it’s important to talk about it, raise awareness and improve opportunities for people returning to work after stroke.