Community care for stroke patients in the last year of life: Results of a national retrospective survey of surviving family, friends and officials
Addington-Hall J., Lay M., Altmann D., McCarthy M.
The quality of community care received in the last year of life by stroke patients and their informal carers is described. This is secondary analysis of data from the Regional Study of Care for the Dying, in which information was collected on a randomly selected sample of people who died in 1990, in 20 self-selected English health districts that were nationally representative in terms of socio-demographic characteristics and health care provision. The respondents comprised 20 spouses, 48 relatives, three friends or neighbours and 40 officials who had known about the last year of life of 111 people who died of stroke, and had spent some time at home (or in a residential or nursing home) in the last year of life. Two-fifths of those who died were reported to have needed more help with personal care (43%), a quarter to have needed more help with domestic chores (27%), and a third to have needed more financial help (31%). Three-fifths had spent some of their last year in a nursing or residential home (63%). Three quarters of respondents who had borne the brunt of caring reported that caring had restricted their own activities to a fair or severe extent (76%); only a third had found it a rewarding experience (32%). Spouses, and those caring for depressed or anxious stroke patients found caring particularly stressful. Stroke patients living in the community need more help with domestic chores and, in particular, with personal care. Informal carers require better support, especially spouses and for those caring for depressed or anxious stroke patients. Further research is required to identify and evaluate the most effective ways of meeting the needs of these patients and their families, and to explore the effects on their care of the Community Care legislation.