By Rebecca Black PA
A stroke survivor has described how she felt lost when she was discharged from hospital.
Rosemary Brown suffered a stroke in 2017 and said while she was grateful for the great care she received in hospital, she felt lost when she was sent home.
She was speaking as the Stroke Association launched a new report at Stormont on Monday which finds stroke survivors in Northern Ireland are struggling to recover.
"My brain had just had the biggest shock of its life and I was feeling shell shocked," she said.
"I didn't know where to turn and felt a bit abandoned for a few weeks.
"When I was sent home from hospital I was given a few leaflets but I don't think my brain could really process that information at the time. It was just all too much."
The Stroke Association's Struggling to Recover report finds that around half of all stroke survivors in Northern Ireland feel abandoned when they leave hospital.
It also found they are unable to make a full recovery due to a lack of rehabilitation and on-going support.
The report finds that stroke survivors in Northern Ireland receive approximately one third of the recommended 45 minutes of physiotherapy, occupational therapy and speech therapy per day.
Other findings include that 45% of stroke survivors feel abandoned when they leave hospital, 90% feel their emotional needs are not met, 78% feel the care and support they receive at home is poor or very poor and 98% of family carers say they sometimes find it difficult to cope.
Ms Brown added: "Stroke survivors need quick access to physiotherapy and speech therapy which can help them make the best recovery possible.
"Referring people from the health service to services that can help should be as seamless as possible. It should happen automatically so people can get the support they need, instead of waiting too long for help."
Ahead of the upcoming public consultation on reforming hospital stroke services, the Stroke Association is calling for the creation of an appropriately funded regional stroke pathway to reduce the postcode lottery of stroke care and help all stroke survivors to make the best recovery they can.
Ursula Ferguson, head of stroke support at the Stroke Association, said rehabilitation and long term support for stroke survivors has "long been identified as the Cinderella of stroke services".
"We cannot enter another decade of unmet need and chronic underfunding of community based stroke care. Everyone affected by stroke in Northern Ireland has the right to make the best possible recovery," she said.
"No stroke survivor should be abandoned."
Every year around 4,000 people in Northern Ireland have a stroke or TIA (mini-stroke) and there are around 1,000 stroke related deaths.
There are more than 37,000 stroke survivors in Northern Ireland.