Aims and objectives. Understanding the experiences of stroke patients and their carers during the early days following discharge from hospital is an important aspect of providing appropriate care during this crucial time.
Background. Due to the diverse changes that can result from a stroke, adjustment to returning home may raise many issues for those involved. A review of research was undertaken with the aim of identifying what is already known about experiences at this time.
Design. Systematic review. Method. Search of electronic databases.
Results. The review revealed that recognition of the impact of stroke on patients and carers is improving, with many studies focussing on the longer-term aspects of stroke recovery. Research into the early discharge experiences of stroke patients and/or their carers is often limited to retrospective, longitudinal studies. With the continuing shift towards care in the community, patients and carers can increasingly expect more recovery to be taking place at home at an even earlier stage. Earlier discharge may have important implications for those involved. The review also highlighted that patients with aphasia have frequently been excluded from stroke research and that social roles are important aspects in stroke recovery.
Conclusions. To prepare patients and carers better for the impact of returning home, further research is needed into their experiences at this significant time, particularly in the UK. There is also a need to facilitate the inclusion of those with aphasia in stroke research.
Relevance to clinical practice. An improved understanding of the issues facing stroke patients and carers during their early days at home should facilitate the preparation for discharge in the hospital setting and allow more focussed follow-up services in the community.