The World Health Organization (WHO) has designated 2020 as the “International Year of the Nurse and the Midwife” in honour of the 200th anniversary of Florence Nightingale’s birth. Even though 2020 was not really a year where it felt like celebrating anything, we do want to celebrate nurses and specifically the role they play as part of the Angels community.

The power of Community has always been quite difficult to quantify, but we have certainly witnessed its effect first hand this year. So many Stroke teams were thrown into a situation for which there was no guidelines, and no previous best practice experience to refer to.

In the first weeks of the European wave of the pandemic, our consultant in Portugal took the initiative, started a survey together with the Portuguese stroke society, and within a week received feedback from almost all hospitals in the stroke community, which was then followed up by a webinar to discuss the results. Representatives from across the country attended a 3-hour webinar and even though there were no guidelines nor late breaking trials to discuss, the Portuguese community shared ideas, learned from each other, but probably most importantly realised that they are not in this alone. Since then, we managed to provide an online platform for thousands of doctors, nurses and even EMS teams to face this challenge as a community with more than 10,000 people attending local, National or International webinars supported by Angels.

In times of crises, it is often easy to forget to take some time and acknowledge those that have dedicated their time and resources to help others. The Angels Spirit of Excellence award honours those who embody the spirit of the Angels community. We want to acknowledge people who does not only strive for excellence in stroke care in their hospital, but also serves the wider community. We typically take time at the annual ESO Conference to celebrate these individuals and their contribution to our community, and even though we cannot do it in person, we will again do the same at the ESO WSO 2020 virtual conference in November. You can learn more about this year’s nominees and watch out for the announcement event of this year’s winners at our Angels booth.

This year we will also again acknowledge those hospitals that have achieved Diamond Status in the ESO Angels Awards as well as all hospitals that managed to achieve other awards levels during these trying times.

The Angels community consists of almost 40,000 healthcare professionals across the world and for us to make sure we continue serving our community we have to adapt and strive to continuously improve. Below are some of the updates that can be found on the Angels Initiative website with developments involving the complete patient pathway.


A very worrying trend started as soon as countries went into lockdown – hospitals were seeing a dramatic drop in stroke admissions. From the inspiration of our Italian Angels community came the #StrokeDon’tStayAtHome campaign that has now been adapted by various other countries around the world and millions of potential patients have now been exposed to its life saving message.

In partnership with the University of Stellenbosch, we launched the Stroke Care At Home Manual in 14 languages. An invaluable resource for family members and caretakers that have to look after stroke patients. You can find this in the Angels Academy in the patient section.

The FAST Heroes have gone digital, with the launch of a series of five e-books, online games and a completely gamified website to help families learn and teach their grandparents about stroke.


Emergency Medical Services

The Angels Advanced Stroke Life Support e-learning is now live on the website and will also soon be available in various languages. Developed by experts in stroke, emergency medicine, prehospital care and nursing education, this course has been used to train thousands of EMS personnel, nurses, and physicians from hundreds of institutions across the U.S. and abroad, and it will now be available free on the Angels Website.


The QASC project is now entering its final phase and we have already seen some phenomenal results come from some of the hospitals that have completed the program. We look forward to sharing some results at ESOC 2021.

The Angels Stroke Nurse e-learning has already been completed by 9,403 nurses world-wide and the feedback from nurses that have completed the course is overwhelmingly positive.

Our partnership with Nutricia is showing its first results with the launch of the Oropharyngeal Dysphagia: pathophysiology & management e-learning developed in partnership with the European Society for Swallowing Disorders.

We have also added some resources for nurses working in the Post-Acute phase (Hour 24 – 72) including presentations and a guide on how to set up a Stroke Unit created by Busse.

DoctorsIn an attempt to create a centralised repository for Covid-19 resources, we have added a section on the Angels Website where doctors could access the most recent Covid-19 publications relating to stroke accessible from our home page.

For regional coordinators who want to plan their geographical coverage, we have now made the Angels Mapping tool available for all users. By selecting your country, you will see all hospitals that we know of in your country that are part of the stroke community. If you want to see what the coverage is for those hospitals, click on “Routes” which will show a red and green area around each hospital indicating the 45minutes driving radius. This can be used to identify areas where patients have to travel further in order to access a Stroke Ready Hospital.

The Angels Community is growing in terms of both members and resources available for its users and we will come out of this stronger than before. For those who have not done so before come and join us on the Angels Facebook Group by searching for The Angels Initiative.

We look forward to seeing you virtually at the Conference in November!