Positivity & Hope

Whilst developing this training resource, we formed an advisory group made up of people with stroke and other neurological conditions, carers and staff.

We asked our advisors what they felt the most important topic(s) were to include in the training.

Their top suggestions were maintaining a positive approach and using supportive language. Both of these were important to help people maintain hope for the future.

“The most important thing to me was that the person [staff member] listened to me and didn’t dismiss my goal, I need to keep some hope. Them [staff member] being negative made me feel like I wanted to give up.”

Being Positive

The people in our advisory group told us that when discussing goals with staff, they were at the same time coping with the impact of a traumatic experience, life changing event and/ or deterioration in their health. This could make them feel scared, overwhelmed and anxious.

However, when staff maintained a positive and supportive approach it really helped them feel better and to maintain hope for the future.

Supportive Language

People told us that the language we use can have a big impact – both positive and negative – on how they feel and their outlook on the future.

They told us that some words or phrases had felt negative and dismissive, for example “you have plateaued” or that a goal is “unrealistic” and cautioned us to think carefully and reflect on the language we use.

“Sometimes a word might mean something different to you [staff member] than it does to me. I heard one negative word and it was all I could think about.”

Useful References


Mudge S, Stretton C, Kayes N. Are physiotherapists comfortable with person-centred practice? An autoethnographic insight. Disabil Rehabil. 2014;36(6):457-63. doi: 10.3109/09638288.2013.797515.
Access vis: https://pubmed.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/23713969/.


F. A. S. Bright, FAS. Et al. (2013) Hope in people with aphasia, Aphasiology, 27:1, 41-58, DOI: 10.1080/02687038.2012.718069
Access via: https://www.tandfonline.com/doi/abs/10.1080/02687038.2012.718069


Bright FAS, McCann CM, Kayes NM. Recalibrating hope: A longitudinal study of the experiences of people with aphasia after stroke. Scand J Caring Sci. 2020 Jun;34(2):428-435. doi: 10.1111/scs.12745. Epub 2019 Sep 5. PMID: 31487069; PMCID: PMC7432176.
Access via: https://www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC7432176/


Stewart M. and Loftus S. (2018) Sticks and Stones: The Impact of Language in Musculoskeletal Rehabilitation. Journal of Orthopaedic & Sports Physical Therapy 48:7, 519-522
Access via: https://www.jospt.org/doi/10.2519/jospt.2018.0610