Hidden Healthcare: Supporting stroke survivors

Sunday, May 17, 2020 referral
Hidden Healthcare: Supporting stroke survivors Ron and Marge Townrow recently won an award at the Stroke Foundation’s 2020 awards for their work with Central Victorian stroke survivors
Hidden Healthcare takes a look behind the scenes at some of the health professionals powering regional Victoria's largest hospital.

Ron and Marge Townrow’s lived experience has taught them to see the positives in every situation.

Nineteen years ago, Ron – a fit and healthy farmer from a small town in the Mallee – collapsed while out jogging.

He’d had a stroke, which doctors believe stemmed from a calcified blood clot from head knock during his football days.

Despite being housebound for a number of years and without the proper use of his left arm, Ron’s rehabilitation has improved his quality of life.

Ron and his wife and carer Marge joined the Central Victorian stroke support group - which meets monthly at Bendigo Health - when they moved to the region 14 years ago.

Their positive experience encouraged them to become volunteers with the support group and they now convene the groups meetings, along with three other volunteers.

“Lots of people who’ve had strokes can slip through the cracks but the group is a good way of trying to reintegrate them back into society,” Marge said.

“I couldn’t swallow, smile or talk. We wanted to give people motivation and inspiration that they can also get through it,” Ron said.

Marge said many stroke survivors had to begin by accepting what had happened to them.

“You have to go through that grieving process because you can then accept your life has changed. If you can’t accept your life has changed its harder to commit to the rehabilitation,” she said.

The pairs’ positivity has helped numerous stroke survivors in Central Victoria.

They also volunteer their time at the Bendigo Stroke Support Centre.

Their social conscience and commitment to voluteering developed during their time in Nullawil, in the Mallee and has continued since.

“It was only a small community, everyone had to put in,” Marge said.

“Even when we were busy we always found time to volunteer.”

They recently won an award in the Improving Life After Stroke Award category at the Stroke Foundation’s 2020 awards.

The award recognises people who strive to improve the lives of people who have been impacted by stroke.