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`Seeking': a key activity for new family carers of stroke survivors


L. Brereton School of Nursing and Midwifery, University of Sheffield, Humphry Davy House, Golden Smithies Lane, Manvers, Rotherham S63 7ER, UK (tel.: 0114 222 9904, e-mail:


• Stroke is one of the major causes of disability in the United Kingdom and considerable numbers of stroke survivors need help and support from family carers.

• The sudden and unexpected nature of stroke means that there is very little time for family members to prepare for a caring role.

• This paper draws on data from 37 interviews with 14 new carers of stroke survivors and highlights the uncertainty and lack of confidence that family members experience in adopting a caring role.

• During the initial period following the stroke carers engage in a number of different `seeking' activities in order to try and ensure that they feel competent, confident and safe to provide care and that they understand the likely future demands they may face.

• Rather than being facilitated by staff, carers' efforts often go unnoticed or are overlooked, resulting in carers feeling that they are `going it alone'.

• Staff need to be more aware of carers' `seeking' behaviour and actively encourage the formation of partnerships with family members.