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Towards an understanding of the lives of families affected by stroke: a qualitative study of home carers

Aims and objectives.  To explore the personal experiences of carers of stroke survivors and to elicit their views and opinions of what constitute the major issues and concerns of people in their situation.

Background.  The unexpected nature of stroke can propel people into the role of carer with little or no warning. Some carers of stroke survivors suffer from considerable stress and a range of psychological and physical disorders.

Design.  A small-scale qualitative study of experienced carers of stroke survivors.

Method.  Ten carers with experience of caring for a stroke survivor were recruited to the study through community stroke staff. Data were collected using semi-structured interviews and a focus group.

Results.  The women’s main concerns were focused around the need for information and support, including the need for some preparation and training in the necessary skills of caring.

Conclusions.  To understand fully the lives that carers lead, it is necessary to explore what carers want to do, and expect to do, for the care-recipient. There is a need to develop an understanding of factors that appear to be protective against stress, to identify how they can be enhanced and to develop ways to minimise the impact of those factors that have a detrimental impact on the well-being of carers and on those for whom they care.

Relevance to clinical practice.  Health professionals need to ensure that appropriate information is clearly provided for carers. Communication between health professionals to ensure the ‘joined up’ provision of therapeutic services is another area for continual development. Carers expressed the wish to be better prepared to take on the caring role in the home and would have welcomed some training in this area.

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Journal of clinical nursing

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