An initiative, introduced by the Western Integrated Care Partnerships, provides a specialist orthoptic service to identify visual problems in stroke patients.
Visual problems are common after a stroke and can affect up to two thirds of stroke survivors.
Often hospital ward staff may have concerns about a patient’s vision following a stroke, and this can delay their treatment and/or discharge.
The initiative – funded by the Western Local Commissioning Group – has helped to reduce the impact of any sight loss as a result of stroke by referring patients to a team of specialist eye care specialists, who will assess and treat a range of visual problems.
Orthoptist David Wright, who is part the specialist team, explains the change it has made to stroke patients.
“Across the Western Trust area 87 per cent of stroke patients get an orthoptic assessment while they are inpatients and the rest are followed up after they get home. Before this initiative was introduced by the ICP it was 8 per cent.
“Ironically, vision is often an unseen issue for many patients after they’ve had a stroke.
“We are able to see patients so quickly; 46 per cent of patients with a problem are able to start their treatment within two days, and this doesn’t hold up any other rehabilitation,” he said.
“Visual defects which were not picked up will affect the patient’s recovery and their rehabilitation is impacted if they are not able to see well,” he said.
There has also been a reduction in the length of stay in hospital for stoke patients with a visual defect by 3.6 days.
Dr Ciaran Mullan, chair of the Western Local Commissioning Group, said the service was a good example of how, when a variety of service providers join forces to plan and deliver care in the local community it has a direct impact on the quality of patient experience and rehabilitation.
“The Western Local Commissioning Group is committed to working in collaboration with the Western ICPs to ensure that we make a real difference to patients and their families. Access to this specialist rehabilitation is a crucial component in maximising patient outcomes and quality of life,” he said.
The service has won the Western Trust’s hospital based team award at the inaugural Allied Health Professionals Awards for their contribution to patient care.