Peer support for stroke survivors: a case study

Title: Peer support for stroke survivors: a case study
Authors: Kessler, Dorothy
Egan, Mary
Kubina, Lucy-Ann
Date: 2014-06-16
Abstract: Abstract Background Innovative and sustainable programs are required to support the well-being of stroke survivors. Peer support is a potentially low cost way to enhance well-being of recent stroke survivors and the well-being and community reintegration of their peer supporters. This article describes the perceptions of stroke survivors, care partners, peer supporters, and professionals of an individual peer support program. Methods An instrumental case study design was used to examine a volunteer peer support program that provides acute care visits and telephone follow-up post-discharge. In particular, a) type of support provided, b) benefits for the stroke survivor and care partner, c) potential harms to the stroke survivor, d) impact of providing support on the peer supporter, and e) required processes were considered. Semi-structured interviews were carried out with 16 new stroke survivors and 8 care partners immediately following hospital discharge and then 6 months later, and with 7 peer supporters, 3 program co-ordinators and 4 health professionals to gather feedback from multiple stakeholders. Results Emotional, affirmational and informational support were perceived as being offered by the peer supporters. Peer visits were perceived as providing encouragement, motivation, validation, and decreased feelings of being alone. However, the visits were not perceived as beneficial to all stroke survivors. The impact on the peer supporters included increased social connections, personal growth, enjoyment, and feelings of making a difference in the lives of others. Involvement of the healthcare team, peer supporter training and a skilled coordinator were crucial to the success this program. Conclusions Peer support can potentially enhance service to stroke survivors and promote community reintegration for peer volunteers. Further research is needed to determine the preferred format and timing of peer support, and the characteristics of stroke survivors most likely to benefit.
CollectionLibre accès - Publications // Open Access - Publications