Martin Haney is the Stroke Support Co-ordinator who looks after the Brighton and Hove area. Martin runs the Brighton Moving Forward After Stroke course, a 12-week programme of exercise, advice and support for Stroke survivors to help reduce the risk of further Strokes. The weekly, two- hour education and exercise classes help participants recognise and make positive lifestyle changes, introduce or reintroduce exercise into their daily routines, help improve physical and mental wellbeing and create lasting friendships.
What’s the first thing you do in the morning?
First thing I do is drink a big glass of water and have breakfast. Water helps kick start my metabolism for the day. I make overnight oats for porridge which I keep chilled in the fridge and I add raspberries, blueberries and strawberries. The porridge is a great source of carbohydrates and fibre as well as a good release of slow energy to keep me going, plus I get the antioxidants from the berries – and it tastes nice.
What’s Your Journey to work?
As a Stroke Support Co-ordinator I spend quite a bit of time driving around the area going to and from appointments, delivering courses, attending hospital meetings and making home visits. I spend one day at Brighton General Hospital with the Occupational Therapists, nurses and physiotherapists, catching up with the Team, in planning meetings and making sure I’m up-to-date with my admin. I run the Moving Forward course at Withdean Sports Complex in Brighton, so I’m there quite a bit and I also have house and hospital visits which are all part of the Recovery Service I deliver.
What happens when you get to Withdean for a Stroke Moving Forward class?
The first thing I do is set-up my laptop, check my emails and my work phone for any messages. I do this as I receive a lot of voicemails and emails from doctors, nurses, patients, carers and those who are taking part in the Moving Forward course, as well as members of the public who get in touch for information or support.
I then set-up the Studio for the class. I make sure the room temperature is cool, the gym equipment, steps, weights and bars are ready and in place; move a stationary spin bike into the Studio, prepare the walk-way and layout the table and chairs for the first part of the class. I make sure the table and chairs are near the door and that the walk-way is clear so it’s easy to access and not too far for participants to walk when they arrive. I like to keep my classes small to about five people. Of course, I have carers and family members attending to give support, and sometimes they join in too.
What type of Strokes do you help?
Most Strokes are caused by a blockage cutting off the blood supply to the brain. This is known as an Ischaemic Stroke. However, Strokes can also be caused by a bleeding in or around the brain. These are Haemorrhagic Strokes. A Transient Ischaemic Attack (TIA) is also known as a mini-stroke. The Moving Forward course is available to all Stroke survivors, of any age who live in Brighton and Hove. The sessions are also open to the families and carers of people affected by stroke.
What are the Benefits to Attendees and Carers?
The benefits are physical, psychological and emotional. I see progress every step of the way, from the initial pre-assessment, through to the six week and 12-week follow-ups. I measure walking rates, monitor blood pressure and resting heart rates. It’s great as attendees always show an increase in their fitness levels, albeit the time and distance they can walk, having stronger arms and legs, showing greater flexibility and improved balance. However, the main benefit – I believe – of the course is the psychological impact it has on participants. I see how a person’s confidence grows on being able to walk a bit further or cycle a bit longer and the friendships and camaraderie that the class has by the end of the course. The conversation and chatting to others can be just as beneficial as the physical results. I want to keep this going so am currently planning a series of monthly coffee mornings for everyone to attend.
Why do you do what you do?
I don’t want to sound ‘cheesy’, but it really does come from good place – I generally enjoy helping people who are less fortunate. Doing what I do, has made me a lot humbler. I started out working as a Personal Trainer then a Fitness Trainer and Manager but decided I wanted to do more. I started doing extra courses and gained my Exercise Referral and Level Four Cancer Rehabilitation and After Stroke qualifications.
I have a real interest seeing the improvement each person makes and how they become more confident, self-assured and outgoing. I’d like to feel that I make a difference, no matter how small to everyone who attends a class, or I see at hospital or on a home visit.
Do you have any specific success stories?
One lady who came along to a class could only walk on her Zimmer Frame with the help of her daughter. She was brilliant, had a great attitude and a good spirit. By week six, she was able to participate in the full exercise session and able to do all the circuits – she even enjoyed the spin bike which she said empowered her. By the end of the 12-weeks she was able to walk smoothly and unaided on her Zimmer at a good pace, shaving roughly 45 seconds off her original assessment time.
In one word, how does your work make you feel? Humble.
If you weren’t a Stroke Support Co-ordinator, what would you be and why?
An Astronaut as I’m fascinated by space, I’m a bit of a geek really.
If your parent or someone you know would benefit from the Moving Forward sessions, please see links below:
• Stroke Association Recovery Service, visit: https://www.stroke.org.uk/finding-support/brighton-and-hove-stroke-recovery-service or call 0303 3033100
• Stroke Association Moving Forward Service, visit: https://www.stroke.org.uk/finding-support/brighton-moving-forward-after-stroke