It seemed like a routine day when my friend Renee (a pseudonym) went to visit her grandmother in the skilled nursing facility (SNF) where she lived—until Renee arrived at her grandmother’s room. She found the elderly woman unable to speak and rushed to the nurses’ station to relay the information to an aide. Having some background in health matters, Renee knew that speech difficulties can be a sign of stroke.
“Yeah, she was pretending she couldn’t talk when I was in there a little while ago,” the aide responded. The aide said she was about to take her break, so Renee called for other assistance.
My friend and I, perhaps naively, were astonished by the healthcare knowledge and sense of urgency lacking in this scenario. According to Laura Beving of the National Stroke Association (NSA), however, such occurrences are not rare.
“What you’re saying does not come as a surprise to me, unfortunately,” she said after I relayed the story. “The staff turnover in long-term care [LTC] facilities is crazy, so just training people to do what they have to do is huge. Doing additional training about stroke does not necessarily always happen the way it needs to.”
Beving, manager of stroke survivor and caregiver education and outreach for NSA, said that awareness of stroke signs, symptoms and treatments among those working in healthcare settings is important for three reasons: