August 28 @ 12:07pm

Supporting stroke survivors and their families – My role in Headway

Marcia Ward, PPI representative on the Irish National Stroke Audit at NOCA talks about her role in Headway

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Supporting stroke survivors and their families – My role in Headway Image

As a clinical neuropsychologist I have worked for the past 10 years in supporting individuals to live full and meaningful lives following Acquired Brain Injury including stroke. I work for Headway which for over thirty years has been Ireland’s leading non-profit organisation for helping survivors of Acquired Brain Injury. Headway is a community neurorehabilitation service, accredited internationally by Commission on Accreditation of Rehabilitation Facilities international (CARF), for its adult brain injury programmes. CARF International is an independent, nonprofit accreditor of health and human services including medical rehabilitation. CARF currently accredits more than 60,000 programs and services at over 28,000 locations. More than 14 million persons of all ages are served annually by 8,000-plus CARF-accredited service providers. Headway is one of the four organisations audited and accredited to deliver neuro rehabilitation programmes in Ireland.

Over the past number of years, we have seen a shift in our
demographics with stroke now being the number one reason people are
referred to Headway services. Clients with stroke account for over 40%
of our total caseload. The needs of each individual stroke survivor are
pivotal to the person-centred services Headway offer. In my capacity as a
clinical neuropsychologist, my role involves supporting people to
adjust to cognitive, physical, communication, emotional and behavioural
challenges they may be experiencing post-stroke. This is a collaborative
process involving me working with my client, their family members and
other professionals from a variety of disciplines. Headway is
committed to improving stroke services for people of all ages in
Ireland. As a part of this, I am involved in projects related to
advocacy, education, peer support, and providing evidence-based
intervention services to meet the varying needs of stroke survivors and
their families.

I am delighted to be involved in the Irish National Audit of Stroke (INAS)
in the capacity of a Public Patient Representative (PPI). This links
directly to my role as an advocate. I have supported stroke survivors to
voice their experiences of stroke care and services in Ireland from
acute to community settings. This has taken many forms including
conference presentations, co-teaching with stroke survivors on
University courses and providing continuing education development for
professionals. I am in the process of co-authoring a book chapter with a
stroke survivor which will explore her experiences of stroke care and
rehabilitation in Ireland. I believe that in order to improve services
we need to listen to, collaborate and learn from the patient experience.
The value placed on this is evident in the inclusion of PPI
representatives such as myself in national audits. The National Office
of Clinical Audit NOCA undertakes and maintains a portfolio of national
clinical audits, which are appraised against national and international
standards. The provision of reliable data via audits to service users
and service providers assists in improving patient outcomes and
facilitating change in Irish healthcare. look forward to continuing my
involvement with the Irish National Audit of Stroke (INAS).

Contacting Headway and accessing Headway services

If you or someone you know has had a stroke, Headway is here to help.

If you or someone you know has had a stroke, Headway is here to help.

  • You can contact our helpline (1800 400 478), Monday to Friday 9am -1pm and 2pm -5pm.

  • You can contact the Information and Support Team through email on or via our contact form.

  • You can even leave a message for us on our website, using the “Leave a message” function.

  • More information about the services we offer and our locations are available on

For more detail on the Irish National Audit of Stoke visit the INAS web page here. Further details on being a PPI representative at NOCA is available here.

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