Background: Previous studies examining social work interventions in stroke often lack information on content, methods and timing over different phases of care including acute hospital, rehabilitation and out-patient care. This limits our ability to evaluate the impact of social work in multidisciplinary stroke care. We aimed to quantify social-work-related support in stroke patients and their carers in terms of timing and content, depending on the different phases of stroke care.
Methods: We prospectively collected and evaluated data derived from a specialized "Stroke-Service-Point" (SSP); a "drop in" center and non-medical stroke assistance service, staffed by social workers and available to all stroke patients, their carers and members of the public in the metropolitan region of Berlin, Germany.
Results: Enquiries from 257 consenting participants consulting the SSP between March 2010 and April 2012 related to out-patient and in-patient services, therapeutic services, medical questions, medical rehabilitation, self-help groups and questions around obtaining benefits. Frequency of enquiries for different topics depended on whether patients were located in an in-patient or out-patient setting. The majority of contacts involved information provision. While the proportion of male and female patients with stroke was similar, about two thirds of the carers contacting the SSP were female.
Conclusion: The social-work-related services provided by a specialized center in a German metropolitan area were diverse in terms of topic and timing depending on the phase of stroke care. Targeting the timing of interventions might be important to increase the impact of social work on patient's outcome.
Keywords: Patient-centered care; Rehabilitation; Social support; Social work; Stroke.