Background: Many people who have suffered a stroke require rehabilitation to help them resume their previous activities and roles in their own environment, but only some of them receive inpatient or even outpatient rehabilitation services. Partial and unmet rehabilitation needs may ultimately lead to a loss of functional autonomy, which increases utilization of health services, number of hospitalizations and early institutionalization, leading to a significant psychological and financial burden on the patients, their families and the health care system. The aim of this study was to explore partially met and unmet rehabilitation needs of older adults who had suffered a stroke and who live in the community. The emphasis was put on needs that act as obstacles to social participation in terms of personal factors, environmental factors and life habits, from the point of view of four target populations.
Methods: Using the focus group technique, we met four types of experts living in three geographic areas of the province of Québec (Canada): older people with stroke, caregivers, health professionals and health care managers, for a total of 12 groups and 72 participants. The audio recordings of the meetings were transcribed and NVivo software was used to manage the data. The process of reducing, categorizing and analyzing the data was conducted using themes from the Disability Creation Process model.
Results: Rehabilitation needs persist for nine capabilities (e.g. related to behaviour or motor activities), nine factors related to the environment (e.g. type of teaching, adaptation and rehabilitation) and 11 life habits (e.g. nutrition, interpersonal relationships). The caregivers and health professionals identified more unmet needs and insisted on an individualized rehabilitation. Older people with stroke and the health care managers had a more global view of rehabilitation needs and emphasized the availability of resources.
Conclusion: Better knowledge of partially met or unmet rehabilitation needs expressed by the different types of people involved should lead to increased attention being paid to education for caregivers, orientation of caregivers towards resources in the community, and follow-up of patients' needs in terms of adjustment and rehabilitation, whether for improving their skills or for carrying out their activities of daily living.