On Reflection ...

 Soon you will have forgotten the world, and the world will have forgotten you. 

As I contemplated reaching my 80th birthday and my retirement from my formal activities at the University of Nottingham, I was compelled to reflect upon my experience of being involved in stroke research and the development of stroke services across the Nation, but particularly in Nottingham over the 16 years since my own stroke occurred. This compulsion also led me to dwell a little on my own mortality and the limited time I have left for me to continue to influence those things relative to stroke that I hold dear and have worked hard to promote over these years.

In parallel with this there are other thoughts which serve to exercise my mind further, namely:

  • The improvements in stroke care which have accrued since the National Strategy for Stroke was launch in December 2007.
  • The brilliant stroke research work carried out within the University of Nottingham over several decades and as a result the excellent international reputation this has generated, particularly in the area of stroke rehabilitation research carried out under the direction of Professor Marion Walker and her staff within the School of Rehabilitation and Ageing.
  • The innovative work and leadership provided through the Stroke Research Partnership Group @astroke to embed lay involvement into all stroke research projects over the past 11 years.
  • And recently the establishment of the Centre for Doctoral Training in Rehabilitation and Health Care Research within the Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences.

This process led me to the conclusion that I wish to see the establishment of a Foundation which will gather all of this thinking together and provide a continuing link between the University’s Stroke Research; my family, my work and my name into the future, when I am no longer here, as well as assisting in the continuance and sustainability of the excellence achieved by Marion’s leadership and her department into the future.

The creation of a Foundation which will sponsor and support one doctoral post graduate student per year and perhaps provide some funding for stroke research too, would enable all of this to be pulled together to become a reality and a legacy for the future. So it is my wish, that with the help of family and friends, to set up as soon as is practical a Foundation Trust for the purpose described above.

Dr Ossie Newell MBE, Hon LLD. (written in June 2015)

 


Ossie’s Motivation

strokeservicesSixteen years ago I suffered a stroke, an event you would consider catastrophic, but in fact it was “The Beginning of my Life - Part Two”

From the time of my initial hospitalisation, I have been totally absorbed in the subject and have worked almost daily to improve the lot of stroke patients’ and their families.
My experience has led me through the various aspects of recovery and through this I have gathered a huge amount of knowledge and experience about how stroke care is delivered, from hospital to home and beyond. What has become abundantly clear to me is that stroke care must be delivered through a “pathway of care” which covers every aspect of this journey. A pathway that is seamless; joined up and functional, with every transition from one section of the pathway to another - seamless and well organised, with the appreciation that each and every part of it is as important as the next. This is vital when dealing with all of the aspects of rehabilitation post stroke.

Sadly in reality this is not the case. Although there are obviously examples of good practice these tend to be centre around acute hospital care, this section of care receiving a disproportionate amount of funding and political attention at the expense of the remainder of the pathway that deals with rehabilitation.

There is one exception to this however, that being that of early supported discharge into the community, and this too is variable dependent upon the geographic location and is available only for lesser disabled patients. It does not apply to everyone and must therefore be considered to be inequitable.

The provision of comprehensive care throughout the pathway is truly lamentable.
Data and statistics indicate that approximately 150,000 people suffer a stroke each year, of which a third die, a third make a good recovery and a third are left disabled. Stroke is the largest cause of disability from all sources and absorbs some 7% of the NHS budget, yet there are still some 1.2 million people in the U.K. living post stroke and we know that as the population is living longer and that the majority of strokes affect older people, the present situation will undoubtedly become worse than it presently is.

The implications for the social burden this will bring are dire, we know that a significant number of relationships falter, or run into real trouble due to the complexity and impact of stroke and we know that the current political situation and trend means that existing “Care in the Community” will be cut to reduce the cost burden - making things worse and placing more and more responsibilities on families to provide the care themselves; within their own homes, and with little or no support available to them.

In addition, we continually hear commissioners of care asking the question “where is the evidence for this provision” and often even when robust research evidence is available, it is ignored.

This brings me to the nub of my position; a passion and desire for excellence in stroke care provision and in research, in particular that of stroke rehabilitation, all matters relating to stroke must be condition specific, a speciality in its own right and not embroiled in other conditions or processes.

The patient needs I have described and my involvement in these to date, are the fundamental reasons why I want to create my Foundation and of course I do not expect to live for ever and wish to leave something behind which will continue to grow when I have gone.

It seems to me that to be able to create and continue excellence in stroke rehabilitation research we must begin at grass roots level by attracting the very best of our graduates into the field of stroke research, with the expectation that everything else would follow from there – excellence in teaching provided by an established research facility with a world-wide reputation for robust research, the resources and facilities needed for such a programme, delivered within an organisation willing and ready to support such a philosophy and purpose.

We have such an establishment here within the University of Nottingham and I wish to contribute to the continuity of this work by establishing the Ossie Newell Foundation in order to sponsor one PhD student per year, who will be committed to the advancement of stroke rehabilitation research for future stroke survivors and their families and in which lay individuals will have had real input. This will over time assist in the provision of a stronger foundation of an elite group of researchers dedicated to excellence in stroke rehabilitation research, which in turn will inform and educate the providers of stoke care throughout the stroke care pathway, as well as informing the public and stroke survivors of the areas of research being proposed, carried out and completed successfully.

So my goal is to establish a charitable organisation called the “Ossie Newell Foundation Trust” to carry out the principles and objectives I have described; as soon as it is possible to do so and I look forward to attracting all the good will and financial support I am able to muster in order to assist me in this ambitious, but highly desirable venture.

This is the essence of the strap line we use: 

It is not about today, it’s about tomorrow ...

 


The Objective ...

For stroke rehabilitation services to offer any real hope to patients following a stroke they must be truly multi-disciplinary and integral to a seamless and functional pathway. Every aspect underlying this is reliant upon excellent and robust research, which ideally should include patient perspective. This Foundation has been created in an attempt to underline and strengthen this belief by providing a scholarship for one PhD student per year, who will be committed to this philosophy...


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