Following a significant stroke in the operating theatre at the General Hospital in mid-December 2019, I gained semi-consciousness, hooked up to tubes and pipes, and not knowing where I was or why I was there.
I was totally confused, and at that time could barely move, speak or eat. Unfortunately, the hospital had neither the facilities nor the professionals to assist me.
I became totally discouraged and depressed. Without the support of my wife and family and friends and my own determination, I would simply have lain in the hospital bed and vegetated.
Pictured: Stephen Lawson suffered a stroke at the General Hospital in mid-December 2019.
But the day I was transferred to Samares Ward at Overdale was, without exaggeration, the day of my re-birth. From day one in a clean and quiet private room equipped with facilities for moving me by hoist, the medical and support staff were wonderful and I was treated as an individual and encouraged and motivated in every possible way to make a start on rehabilitating myself.
And the highly professional speech therapists, eating and occupational therapists all provided excellent personal care and attention that made me want to improve and get better; soon I was able to learn again to wash and dress myself, admittedly with willing assistance to start with, and to eat again. The equipment and facilities available in the Rehabilitation Centre were excellent.
The physiotherapist team in the gyms were exceptional, and gave me every encouragement to move, strengthen my badly affected left leg and left arm, and to keep exercising.
Gradually with their close attention to my personal needs, I was able to stand, take a few steps, and eventually to walk a little, first with frames and eventually with a stick, and even to ascend and descend steps. In clement weather I was escorted outside to exercise and practise what I had re-learned to do in the gym.
Pictured: "The physiotherapist team in the gyms were exceptional, and gave me every encouragement to move," Stephen said.
I looked forward with anticipation every day to the visits by or to those highly trained and friendly professionals, often the highlights of my day. They harnessed my determination and encouraged me, literally, every step of the way. They were genuinely pleased, even delighted, at every little progress I made, even when I could not see or feel it for myself.
The restaurant staff were always willing and helpful, and very patient with those of us who had difficulty eating, drinking and using cutlery. Communal breakfast and lunch in the dining room were social events during which patients could meet and chat about themselves, their problems and their progress. The food was varied and plentiful.
It was wonderful to be able to have regular visits from family and friends. As my health and physical condition improved, some evening meals were brought in by family or friends and we were able to eat in one of the very pleasant sitting rooms. Later we were allowed to play bridge in one of the rooms in the afternoons.
In the well-equipped kitchenette I learned under supervision how to overcome the weakness of my left hand and to safely make tea and coffee, make toast and cook eggs. All very valuable lessons once I went home.
I can never speak highly enough about the very professional and dedicated team of medical and therapist staff of Samares Ward. It was with disbelief that I learned that the world-class Rehabilitation Ward had been closed and that the incredible and dedicated team had been disbanded, with individual members of it being scattered amongst other wards, some with their training, skills and experience being disregarded.
Pictured: "From what information I have been able to glean, I have been forced to conclude that the closure of Samares Ward was decided on purely economic grounds," Stephen wrote.
What a tragic loss to the people of Jersey – but WHY was this done? I have asked and posed this same question over and over to every States member, with no feedback whatsoever. From what information I have been able to glean, I have been forced to conclude that the closure of Samares Ward was decided on purely economic grounds – as though the well-being of Jersey residents is counted in pounds and pence.
Sadly, I know of cases of people who have suffered strokes, accidents and other afflictions since my own stay at Overdale, who were left to languish in the General Hospital or in nursing homes without equipment or facilities or the assistance and treatment from trained and dedicated professionals like those who gave me back my life.
Occupational therapists also visited and inspected my house and arranged for improvements to help me get around safely. I was back home earlier than I had ever dared hope to be. Occupational therapists and rapid response personnel visited and assessed me regularly at, and helped me to continue my recovery.
All I can say is thank you from the bottom of my heart, and to sincerely hope that our short-sighted politicians will appreciate the vital importance of restoring immediately the Rehabilitation Centre somewhere on the Island for the enormous benefit of unfortunate Jersey people who now and in the future desperately need the vital rehabilitation services it provides.
Nobody, not even politicians, knows “what’s round the corner” or who will be afflicted next, but I feel strongly that professional rehabilitation facilities and personnel should be readily available for all who need them, when they need them.
Stephen M Lawson