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Welsh stroke survivors facing financial hardship

Press release   •   Aug 12, 2019 08:00 BST

51-year-old Andrew Davies from Carmarthenshire was forced to give up work following a stroke

*Scroll down for Welsh*

New figures published today by the Stroke Association reveal that almost half (47%) of stroke survivors in Wales, aged under 65, are faced with financial hardship after their stroke. The charity’s findings reveal that stroke survivors have experienced a loss of income, faced discrimination at work, and in some cases, have been forced to sell their home to pay for medical expenses.

The Stroke Association’s Lived Experience report is the UK’s largest ever survey of people affected by stroke(i) with more than 600 responses in Wales. The second chapter (of four), The wider impact of stroke, shows how the impact of the condition affects people’s working life, relationships and finances.

There are currently almost 70,000 stroke survivors in Wales, with a quarter of strokes happening to people of working age. The findings show the price tag that can come with a stroke, revealing that in Wales;

  • More than half (54%) of stroke survivors aged under 65 gave up work or reduced their working hours following their stroke.
  • Yet around a quarter (23%) said their expenses had increased as a result of their stroke, which could include the cost of support aids and higher household bills due to being at home.
  • Andrew Davies, 51 from Ammanford was a successful press photographer and keen runner when he had a stroke in 2013.

    Andrew said: “It was a Sunday. I’d just run a half marathon and felt great. Then I went to bed and had a stroke. I had a clot in my cerebellum – the part of the brain that controls all motor function – so I was left with challenges around balance, coordination and movement and I’ve put on weight because I can’t run anymore.

    “Depression soon set in. It was a massive challenge for my wife and teenage daughter to support me whenever we left the house because I’d always been so independent. As a photographer, I was always busy doing a job I loved but I lost my successful freelance business overnight.

    “The impact of having to give up my career in my mid-40s was huge. I had to deal with applying for benefits and worrying about money, while also struggling with my mental health. My stroke has also taken its toll on my wife, contributing to the worsening of her own mental health problems.

    “I did work hard to get out of my wheelchair and begin walking with sticks, and I hope one day I can be free of those. But the harder you work on your recovery, the more you worry that you might get penalised about the support benefits you’re allowed.”

    Carol Bott, Director of the Stroke Association in Wales, said: “Life changes instantly after a stroke, and the condition can have a huge cost, not only to people’s finances, but also to their health, independence and relationships. But not enough people realise the wider impacts that stroke can bring. Overnight, a partner becomes a carer. A breadwinner becomes jobless.

    “These latest figures show that many stroke survivors are facing a life on the edge of poverty; many have had to give up work, and in some cases, face discrimination from their employers. This comes at a time when financial worries should be the last thing on their minds.

    “Recovery is tough, but with the right support and plenty of courage and determination, the brain can adapt. Time and again we’ve seen thousands of people adapt to a new life after stroke; and we’ve helped them to adjust to a new normal. However, it is extremely worrying that not enough stroke survivors are receiving the support they need to either remain in work or access vital benefits. I’d like to see more people contacting our Helpline to help them through this difficult process.”

    The Lived Experience of Stroke report seeks to expose the realities of living with stroke. The charity wants everyone affected by stroke to have access to the support that they need, when they need it.

    The Stroke Association spoke to stroke survivors, who offered advice for anyone who has found their work or finances impacted by their stroke. They advised:

  • Before stroke happens, consider income protection insurance and critical illness cover. For those who have dependents, such as a partner or children, you might also consider life insurance.
  • When returning to work, talk to your employer and agree reasonable adjustments to help you in the work place. This could be a phased return, part-time or adjusted hours, or a move to lighter duties.
  • If you are an employer and an employee has had a stroke, learn about the condition to help you understand how it affects an individual. Ask your employee what they need as this will enable you to support them in the best way.
  • A stroke can have a huge financial impact, stroke survivors need signposting to services or charities that offer financial support.
  • Don’t be afraid to seek help – whether you are a stroke survivor or you know someone who has had a stroke.
  • The Wider Impact of Stroke report is part two of a four part series focusing on the Lived Experience of Stroke. For more information about the Lived Experience of Stroke – Wider Impact report, visit www.stroke.org.uk/livedexperience.

    The Stroke Helpline (0303 3033 100) offers information and support to people who have been affected by stroke.

    Bron i hanner y bobl o oedran gweithio yng Nghymru sy’n goroesi strôc yn wynebu caledi ariannol

    Mae ffigyrau newydd a gyhoeddwyd heddiw gan y Gymdeithas Strôc yn dangos bod bron i hanner (47%) y bobl sy’n goroesi strôc yng Nghymru, ac sydd o dan 65 oed, yn wynebu caledi ariannol ar ôl eu strôc. Mae canfyddiadau’r elusen yn dangos bod goroeswyr strôc wedi colli incwm, wedi wynebu gwahaniaethu yn y gwaith, ac mewn rhai achosion, wedi cael eu gorfodi i werthu eu cartref er mwyn talu am gostau meddygol.

    Adroddiad Lived Experience y Gymdeithas Strôc yw’r arolwg mwyaf erioed yn y DU ymhlith pobl a effeithiwyd gan strôc(i), gyda mwy na 600 o ymatebion o Gymru. Mae’r ail bennod (o bedair), sef The wider impact of stroke, yn dangos sut mae canlyniadau’r cyflwr yn effeithio ar fywyd gwaith, perthnasoedd a chyllid pobl.

    Ar hyn o bryd, mae bron i 70,000 o oroeswyr strôc yng Nghymru, gyda chwarter yr achosion o strôc yn digwydd i bobl o oedran gweithio. Mae’r canfyddiadau’n dangos y gost ariannol y mae strôc yn gallu ei achosi, gan ddatgelu, yng Nghymru:

    • Mae dros hanner (54%) y bobl o dan 65 oed a oroesodd strôc wedi rhoi’r gorau i’w gwaith neu wedi cwtogi eu horiau gwaith yn dilyn eu strôc.
    • Ac eto, dywedodd tua chwarter (23%) fod eu treuliau wedi cynyddu o ganlyniad i’w strôc, cy’n gallu cynnwys costau cymhorthion a biliau cartref uwch oherwydd eu bod gartref.

    Roedd Andrew Davies o Rydaman, sy’n 51 oed, yn ffotograffydd y wasg llwyddiannus ac yn rhedwr brwd pan gafodd strôc yn 2013.

    Dywedodd Andrew: “Roedd yn ddydd Sul. Roeddwn newydd redeg hanner marathon ac yn teimlo’n wych. Yna, es i’r gwely, a chefais strôc. Roedd gen i glot gwaed yn fy serebelwm – sef y rhan o’r ymennydd sy’n rheoli pob swyddogaeth echddygol – felly profais heriau o ran cydbwysedd, cydsymud a symud, ac rwyf wedi magu pwysau oherwydd nad wyf yn gallu rhedeg, mwyach.

    “Yn fuan, profais iselder ysbryd. Roedd yn her enfawr i’m gwraig a’m merch yn ei harddegau fy nghefnogi pryd bynnag y byddem yn gadael y tŷ, oherwydd roeddwn wedi bod mor annibynnol erioed. Fel ffotograffydd, roeddwn bob amser yn brysur yn gwneud gwaith roeddwn i’n ei garu, ond collais fy musnes llawrydd llwyddiannus dros nos.

    “Roedd effaith gorfod rhoi’r gorau i’m gyrfa yng nghanol fy 40au yn aruthrol. Bu’n rhaid i mi ddelio â gwneud cais am fudd-daliadau a phryderu am arian, ar adeg pan oedd fy iechyd meddwl yn achosi trafferthion. Yn ogystal, mae fy strôc wedi cael effaith fawr ar fy ngwraig, gan gyfrannu at waethygu ei phroblemau iechyd meddwl hithau.

    “Gweithiais yn galed i ddod allan o’m cadair olwyn a dechrau cerdded â ffyn, ac rwy’n gobeithio y gallaf fod yn rhydd o’r rheini hefyd, rhyw ddiwrnod. Ond po fwyaf y byddwch yn gweithio ar eich adferiad, y mwyaf y byddwch yn poeni y gallech gael eich cosbi o ran y budd-daliadau a ganiateir i chi.”

    Dywedodd Carol Bott, Cyfarwyddwr y Gymdeithas Strôc yng Nghymru: “Mae bywyd yn newid ar unwaith ar ôl strôc, a gall y cyflwr achosi costau enfawr, nid yn unig i gyllid pobl, ond hefyd o ran eu hiechyd, eu hannibyniaeth a’u perthnasoedd. Ond nid oes digon o bobl yn sylweddoli’r effeithiau ehangach y gall strôc eu cael. Dros nos, daw partner yn ofalwr. Aiff enillydd cyflog yn ddi-waith.

    “Mae’r ffigyrau diweddaraf hyn yn dangos bod llawer o oroeswyr strôc yn wynebu bywyd ar gyrion tlodi; mae llawer wedi gorfod rhoi’r gorau i weithio, ac mewn rhai achosion, maent yn wynebu gwahaniaethu gan eu cyflogwyr. Daw hyn ar adeg pan ddylai pryderon ariannol fod y peth olaf ar eu meddyliau.

    “Mae adferiad yn anodd, ond gyda’r gefnogaeth briodol a digon o ddewrder a phenderfyniad, mae’r ymennydd yn gallu addasu. Dro ar ôl tro, rydym wedi gweld miloedd o bobl yn addasu i fywyd newydd ar ôl strôc; ac rydym wedi’u helpu i addasu i fywyd normal newydd. Fodd bynnag, mae’n destun pryder nad oes digon o oroeswyr strôc yn derbyn y gefnogaeth sydd ei hangen arnynt i naill ai aros mewn gwaith neu gael budd-daliadau hanfodol. Hoffwn weld mwy o bobl yn cysylltu â’n Llinell Gymorth i’w helpu drwy’r broses anodd hon.”

    Mae adroddiad Lived Experience of Stroke yn datgelu realiti bywyd ar ôl strôc. Mae’r elusen eisiau i bawb sydd wedi’u heffeithio gan strôc gael mynediad prydlon i’r gefnogaeth sydd ei hangen arnynt.

    Bu’r Gymdeithas Strôc yn siarad â goroeswyr strôc, a roddodd gyngor i unrhyw un yr effeithiwyd ar eu gwaith neu eu cyllid gan strôc. Mae eu cyngor fel a ganlyn:

    • Cyn i strôc ddigwydd, ystyriwch yswiriant diogelu incwm ac yswiriant salwch critigol. Os oes gennych ddibynyddion, fel partner neu blant, gallech hefyd ystyried yswiriant bywyd.
    • Wrth ddychwelyd i’r gwaith, siaradwch â’ch cyflogwr er mwyn cytuno ar addasiadau rhesymol i’ch helpu yn y gweithle. Gallai hyn fod yn ddychweliad graddol, oriau rhan-amser neu oriau wedi’u haddasu, neu symud i ddyletswyddau ysgafnach.
    • Os ydych chi’n gyflogwr ac mae gweithiwr wedi cael strôc, dysgwch am y cyflwr i’ch helpu i ddeall sut mae’n effeithio ar unigolyn. Gofynnwch i’ch gweithiwr beth sydd ei angen arnynt, gan y bydd hyn yn eich galluogi i’w cefnogi yn y ffordd orau.
    • Gall strôc gael effaith ariannol enfawr, ac mae angen cyfeirio goroeswyr strôc at wasanaethau neu elusennau sy’n cynnig cymorth ariannol.
  • Peidiwch ag ofni gofyn am gymorth – p’un ai ydych yn oroeswr strôc neu’n adnabod rhywun sydd wedi cael strôc.
  • Adroddiad The Wider Impact of Stroke yw’r ail ran mewn cyfres o bedair sy’n canolbwyntio ar Brofiad Byw Strôc. I gael rhagor o wybodaeth am adroddiad Lived Experience of Stroke – The Wider Impact, ewch i www.stroke.org.uk/livedexperience.

    Mae’r Llinell Gymorth Strôc (0303 3033 100) yn rhoi gwybodaeth a chefnogaeth i bobl sydd wedi’u heffeithio gan strôc.

  • Stroke strikes every five minutes in the UK and it changes lives in an instant. 
  • Each year around 7,400 people will have a stroke in Wales and we estimate that there are almost 70,000 stroke survivors currently living in Wales.
  • The Stroke Association is a charity working across the UK to support people to rebuild their lives after stroke. We believe that everyone deserves to live the best life they can after stroke. From local support services and groups, to online information and support, anyone affected by stroke can visit stroke.org.uk or call our dedicated Stroke Helpline on 0303 3033 100 to find out about support available locally.
  • Our specialist support, research and campaigning are only possible with the courage and determination of the stroke community and the generosity of our supporters. With more donations and support, we can help rebuild even more lives.
  • You can follow us on Twitter, Facebook and Instagram.
  • (i)The Lived Experience of Stroke – Hidden Effects, Stroke Association report surveyed 618 people in Wales affected by stroke, as part of a total 11,134 across the UK; 1,880 people by online survey, and 9,254 by postal survey, conducted by 2CV (June – August 2018). All figures listed above represent findings from Welsh respondents only. 
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