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Getting back to work for people with aphasia

16 March 2010

Nearly a quarter of people who have a stroke are of working age*, yet few people return to paid employment. Connect worked with people with aphasia and organisations in North Tyneside to look at why people with aphasia find getting back to work difficult.

Talking about getting back to work

Discussing getting back to work for people with aphasia

Utilising the stroke grant funding received by the local authority, Connect was one of the partners in a North Tyneside project called CHANT. The project found out about what going back to work with aphasia is like, by talking to a group of people with aphasia from North Tyneside. Some people hadn’t been able to return to work and others had returned to work but were finding it challenging.

Connect also talked to five voluntary organisations who work to help people with disabilities get back to work. Local authority staff in job centres and welfare offices also talked about their issues. Often there isn’t enough extra time allocated to enable people with aphasia to explain their needs, sometimes people are very emotional and managing the needs of a vast range of people with disabilities is a challenge. 

Problems and Challenges

Lack of confidence, difficulty with numbers, getting tired easily, problems when explaining things, all meant returning to work was difficult. One person had returned to work in the police force but with a less demanding and stressful role. Another person felt that colleagues simply didn’t understand aphasia in the same way that physical disability is understood. Many develop their own ways of coping by keeping detailed records or by creating standard letters to modify.

Improving understanding

Connect has developed a training resource with examples of good and bad communication. This aims to inform/support employers and people working in job-finding services on how to communicate better with people with aphasia and to understand their needs. The CHANT project helped to pilot the resource and it is now being used locally.

In North Tyneside the CHANT project is addressing the challenge of seeking work by offering individual and group activities for goal setting and real life skills, supported by volunteers.


The Back to Work project was a collaboration between Connect and CHANT (Communication Hub for Aphasia in North Tyneside), with local authorities and social services, national and local third sector and government agencies and people living with stroke and aphasia.

*National Stroke Strategy, 2007, page 11

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