Gemma Morgan, 29, a speech and language therapist at The Rotherham NHS Foundation Trust (TRFT), has beaten off stiff competition from around the UK to win The Stroke Association’s 2011 Life After Stroke Award for Excellence in Stroke Care.
Gemma was commended for ‘Communication Partners’, a project she developed with support from the Trust’s Volunteer Service, which trains speech and language therapy students and TRFT volunteers to hold supported conversations with stroke survivors who have communication difficulties (aphasia).
Gemma was nominated by stroke survivor Christine Welburn. After her stroke, Christine was unable to speak, read, write or follow instructions, but 18 months later, with the help of Communication Partners, she has made a great recovery, becoming more confident and speaking in full sentences.
Christine has come such a long way, that she is now a volunteer with the project. She says: “The enthusiasm and commitment that Gemma has shown towards the project has had a ripple effect within the Communications Partners team. She never fails to recognise the input that others are giving the project and she shows the clients real empathy and understanding when clients are often distressed and frustrated.”
Gemma says: “I am so overwhelmed and proud to have won this award. It is recognition for what the stroke survivors, volunteers and staff involved in the project have achieved. Not only have we been able to help stroke survivors improve their communication, but they are meeting new people, taking up new activities, becoming more sociable and increasing their confidence as a result.
“Many of the volunteers hadn’t had experience of working with stroke survivors, so it’s really encouraging that they are giving up their time and learning about such an important condition.”