Stroke Survivors Bring Hope at Lakeridge Health

Posted on Thursday June 27, 2013
Peers Fostering Hope
Peter (centre) meets with two Peers Fostering Hope volunteers at Lakeridge Health

When Peter Stevenson arrived at Lakeridge Health following his stroke, he had trouble speaking and walking. Thanks to intensive care on the hospital’s integrated stroke unit, he is slowly regaining both abilities. And Peter is also benefitting from a new program that brings another important ingredient to his recovery: hope.

The Peers Fostering Hope program launched at Lakeridge Health this spring. The new program connects trained volunteers who have had a stroke with stroke survivors who are staying on the hospital’s integrated stroke unit.

"There is life after a stroke," says Amy Maebrae-Waller, District Stroke Coordinator, Lakeridge Health. "When our patients speak with the Peers Fostering Hope volunteers, they’re able to see that. This program brings encouragement, support and hope to people as they work to regain function they may have lost following their stroke."

Peers Fostering Hope was established based on research conducted with stroke survivors and their families in the Toronto area. They told researchers that they wanted more individual care with hopeful messages.

Peter says it brings him hope to speak with the volunteers. "Especially to see them walking. You wouldn’t know that they had a stroke. That’s what I want to do."

So far, three volunteers have been trained to provide the Peers Fostering Hope program at Lakeridge Health. Volunteers are screened by March of Dimes Canada and Lakeridge Health Volunteer Services and complete 16 hours of training. Joan Winter is one of those volunteers, and she began visiting stroke survivors this spring.

"I had a stroke three-and-a-half years ago," says Joan. "I was kind of lost when I had that stroke. I thought, is there life after stroke? I found out that yes, there is."

Joan says that although every stroke and recovery is different, she is able to help people see that there is a great life waiting for them post-stroke.

"I tell people: there are so many of us who can support you. You aren’t alone."


  • 300,000 Canadians are living with stroke and someone has a stroke about every 10 minutes in Canada.
  • Lakeridge Health is the District Stroke Centre with an integrated stroke unit. Stroke survivors have higher survival rates, fewer complications and improved functional outcomes when they receive the specialized care offered by an integrated stroke unit.
  • Lakeridge Health is one of four Ontario hospitals offering the Peers Fostering Hope program.

A video of Peter and Joan is available here: