Objective: To investigate stroke patients’ and carers’ perceptions of the family support organizer (FSO) service in order to highlight its value for potential purchasers and to help shed light on findings from randomized controlled trials.
Design and subjects: Twenty semi-structured interviews were undertaken with a sub sample of stroke patients and their primary informal carers after completion of nine-month outcome assessments as part of a randomized controlled trial.
Setting: Community stroke services in North Nottinghamshire, UK.
Results: Interviewees who received the service reported that the presence of an FSO was valuable in many respects, including helping to claim benefits, as a source of information on stroke, and providing continuity between stroke services. Emotional support was only described by a few. Interviewees who did not receive the service described feelings of isolation and being let down by other stroke services after discharge. They also reported problems accessing information. Help needed to address the practical problems after stroke was commonly reported. For those who did not receive the FSO service, access to support appeared to be found through other channels.
Conclusion: The FSO service appeared to be an information service. In order to evaluate community stroke services, a mixture of qualitative and quantitative outcome measures are necessary.