Purpose: To examine the support required by family carers for stroke survivors.
Methods: Forty-two family carers were recruited for surveys of needs, knowledge, satisfaction, and competence in caring before and 4 - 6 weeks after discharge from an Acute Stroke Unit (ASU).
Results: Information deficits about dealing with psychological, emotional, and behavioural problems and local service information were priorities before and after discharge. Younger female carers (under 56 years) were least satisfied with communication with ASU staff. Face to face contact was valued. After discharge younger female carers, particularly of non-White ethnic groups, reported lower levels of competence in caring and higher burden. Knowledge of stroke risk factors was low in all groups. High satisfaction with treatment and therapy in the ASU, was not transferred to the community. Carers reported feeling alone and described uncoordinated services.
Conclusions: Carers are able to anticipate and prioritise their needs, value communication with staff and involvement with discharge-planning, but particular difficulties were experienced by younger female carers and those from non-White ethnic groups. This requires particular attention when developing targeted interventions for family carers from a mixed ethnic community. In-depth and longitudinal studies are needed to detail psychosocial needs and guide practice particularly amongst non-White family carers.