Purpose: Stroke caregivers have been identified as a group at high risk for poor outcomes as a result of the suddenness of stroke and a potentially high level of care needed due to significant functional limitations of the patient. However, there is little research on the assessment of family members who will assume the caregiving role prior to patient discharge from rehabilitation. The purpose of this article is to delineate critical assessment domains identified by a subset of spousal stroke caregivers.
Methods: Semi-structured interviews were conducted pre- and post-discharge from rehabilitation as part of a larger study that focused on identifying caregiver and stroke survivor needs as they transitioned home from inpatient rehabilitation. For this study, two semi-structured interviews with 14 spousal caregivers were analyzed using grounded theory methods.
Results: Long-term stroke survivor outcomes were dependent upon the commitment, capacity and preparedness of the family caregiver. Twelve domains of assessment were identified and presented.
Conclusions: A comprehensive, systematic caregiver assessment to understand the caregiver's concerns about stroke should be conducted during rehabilitation to help the team to develop a plan to address unmet needs and better prepare family caregivers to take on the caregiving role.
Implications for rehabilitation: Stroke is a sudden event that often leaves stroke survivors and their families in crisis. The needs of stroke family caregivers are not often systematically assessed as part of inpatient rehabilitation. Long-term stroke survivor outcomes are dependent upon the commitment, capacity and preparedness of the family caregiver. Stroke caregiver assessment should include the commitment, capacity and preparedness to provide care, and the overall impact of stroke in order to develop discharge plans that will adequately address the needs of the stroke survivor/caregiver dyad.
Keywords: Assessment; caregivers; family; stroke.