Changing needs of Chinese family caregivers of stroke survivors

Annie Km Mak, Ann Mackenzie, May Hl Lui
Journal of Clinical Nursing 2007, 16 (5): 971-9

AIM: To examine the changing needs of Chinese family caregivers before and after stroke survivors' discharge from hospital.

BACKGROUND: Stroke ranks third as the most common cause of death in Hong Kong and is the leading cause of adult disability. Community care has been adopted as the major source of care for older people in Hong Kong and this has impacted on family caregivers.

DESIGN AND METHODS: This is a descriptive-correlational design using a within-subjects design. The needs of 40 Chinese family caregivers who met the inclusion criteria were assessed before discharge and two weeks later using the Carer Assessment Scale, Cost of Care Index and one open-ended question. Modified Barthel Index measured the functional ability of stroke survivors.

RESULTS: Family caregivers are able to anticipate most of their needs and to make provision to meet the basic practical needs before discharge. Although needs changed after discharge the four most important needs persisted. These were associated with emotional and psychological problems and financial difficulties. Discharge destinations made no difference to the total scores obtained using the above scales.

CONCLUSIONS: This study provides information about need at a time of transition in an under-researched population of Chinese caregivers. Assessment of need is important with Chinese family carers in order to identify focused interventions in a population, i.e. reluctant to make their needs known to professional services. More research about caregiving problems for Chinese family caregivers at the transition from hospital to community is required.

RELEVANCE TO CLINICAL PRACTICE: Ongoing need assessment by nurses who are in regular contact with caregivers in hospital and community will enable appropriate interventions such as providing education and emotional support both before and after discharge to be offered to Chinese communities.

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