Glasgow volunteer left unable to speak after coma now helping stroke patients in their recovery

Kerry Glancy, 53
-Credit: (Image: NHSGGC)

An NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde volunteer who supports stroke patients in their recovery has told of how she uses her own experience of speech loss to help others.

Kerry Glancy, 53, has been a speech and language therapy support volunteer at Inverclyde Royal Hospital’s Larkfield Unit since last July.

The former Spanish teacher, from Greenock, explained that she has always been interested in speech and language, having previously lost her own speech temporarily due to a horror accident which occurred when she was a teenager.

Kerry was left fighting for her life in a coma after falling down stairs and fracturing her skull when she was getting off a ferry in 1989, aged 19.

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When she woke up at the then Southern General Hospital in Glasgow, she was unable to speak and it took her around a year to fully regain her ability.

Kerry now helps stroke patients in their recovery after he experience with speech loss
Kerry now helps stroke patients in their recovery after he experience with speech loss -Credit:NHSGGC

Kerry, who currently works as a home care support worker in Inverclyde, now uses her first-hand experience to support patients who have difficulties with speech after having a stroke.

By visiting three patients per week, under the direction of NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde’s Speech and Language Therapy (SLT) service, Kerry enhances the patients' experiences by encouraging activity and open conversations to help them progress.

She said: “I was unable to speak for a couple of months, and then when my speech did come back it was quite jumbled.

“As time went on, with support from the hospital at the time and my family, I recovered. It took a while for it to come back.

“Now, when I’m helping patients who are recovering after having a stroke and their speech is affected, I can relate to how they are feeling.

“I can understand the challenges they face.”

Kerry attends the Larkfield Unit’s stroke ward for around three hours a week and she is directed by the SLT service on the interactions she should carry out with patients.

This includes supporting them with worksheets, using an iPad, or sitting with them for a chat.

She said: “It all depends on the individual, and each patient’s ability at the time.

“I enjoy it very much. Every week is different, and the patients I’m supporting are at different stages.

“I may see the same people for a few weeks in a row and it’s brilliant to see how they’ve come on in their recovery.

“It’s always great to see people moving on and being able to go home from hospital, and to have been a part of encouraging them in their own progress. To see them improving and regaining their confidence is very rewarding.

“This role also provides patients with some companionship. Having that time to sit with someone just to talk can make a huge difference to them.”

Kerry added: “I’ve always been interested in language - I studied literature at university, and went on to work as a Spanish teacher for a number of years.

“Some of the people I work with in my day job in the social care sector have had strokes so my volunteering very much supplements this work.

“It also brings me a lot of positivity as I enjoy helping my community.”

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Kerry, who has been volunteering all her life including with Barnardo’s children’s charity, shared her story as NHS Greater Glasgow and Clyde celebrates Volunteers’ Week.

In the past 12 months, volunteers have spent 45,605 hours supporting NHSGGC across its sites in a range of different roles.

Many sites are actively seeking to recruit volunteers. More information about volunteering and current opportunities can be found here.

NHSGGC Volunteer Manager Harry Balch said: “Volunteers Week gives us the opportunity to say a huge thank you to our volunteers and celebrate their contribution.

“Volunteers such as Kerry bring a whole range of experience and skills to the service and that’s what makes volunteering so important.

“Not only do the volunteers provide support to patients, it can be a hugely rewarding – and sometimes surprising - experience for those who volunteer.”

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