Stroke is a major cause of chronic illness in Australia, where it is estimated that between 200,000 and 250,000 people live with disabilities due to stroke. Given stroke's effect on survivors and the accompanying burden on caregivers, attention should be given to addressing the needs of caregivers of stroke survivors because they are central to supporting survivors living in the community. Research has shown that the information needs of caregivers are not being met across healthcare settings. Thus, some attention must be given to the development of educational materials that address caregiver needs. In this study we interviewed caregivers to determine their perspectives on support and educational needs at two different stages in the recovery of the stroke survivor: the acute hospital and the community. Despite a high level of uncertainty among caregivers in the acute and community settings, limited information was provided to assist them in their new role. A multifaceted approach would involve the development and implementation of specifically designed educational materials for caregivers, the use of a tool such as a patient-held record to assist in and improve the continuity and communication of care, and the provision of ongoing support from a stroke nurse practitioner who would follow stroke survivors from the acute setting to the community. This approach should be evaluated so that the important issue of addressing caregiver needs is given its due attention.
Questions or comments about this article may be directed to: Bev O'Connell, PhD MSc RN FRCNA, by phone at (03)95081426 or by e-mail at email@example.com. She is the chair in acute nursing at Cabrini Hospital/Deakin University Nursing Professorial Unit in Malvern, Victoria, Australia.
Linda Baker, RN GradDip Comm Health MSc Health, is a research assistant at Cabrini Hospital/Deakin University Nursing Professorial Unit.
Amy Prosser, BA (Hons. Psychology), is a research assistant at Cabrini Hospital/Deakin University Nursing Professorial Unit.
© 2003 American Association of Neuroscience Nurses