• discharge planning;
  • family caregiver;
  • nurses;
  • nursing;
  • older people;
  • stroke

Aims.  To test the effectiveness of a discharge planning program for dyads of older stroke survivors and their family caregivers in Taiwan.

Background.  Family caregivers of stroke survivors often feel inadequately prepared to deal with the physical, cognitive and emotional needs of the stroke survivors. However, little information could be found on discharge planning programs for caregivers of stroke survivors in Asian families.

Design.  A randomised experimental design was used to explore the effects of a discharge planning program for 158 dyads of older stroke patients and their family caregivers.

Methods.  The control group (= 86 dyads) received only routine hospital discharge planning services and the experimental group (= 72 dyads) received routine hospital discharge planning services plus the caregiver-oriented discharge planning program. Outcome variables were measured at baseline, before discharge and one month after hospital discharge. Variables were measured by the Nurse Evaluation of Caregiver Preparation Scale, Preparedness for Caregiving Scale, Caregiver Discharge Needs Satisfaction Scale and Perception of Balance between Competing Needs Scale.

Results.  Caregivers in the experimental group had significantly better nurse evaluation and self-evaluation of preparation after the program than before, and greater satisfaction of discharge needs one month after discharge than before discharge. Caregivers in the experimental group had significantly better nurse evaluations and self-evaluations of preparation and better satisfaction of discharge needs after the program compared with the control group. However, no significant difference was found between caregiver groups in perceived balance of competing needs.

Conclusions.  This discharge planning program benefited family caregivers of older stroke patients during the transition from hospitalisation to one month after discharge.

Relevance to clinical practice.  This caregiver-oriented discharge planning program, with its emphasis on individualised health education and home visits following discharge may improve caregivers’ preparation and the satisfaction of their needs during the discharge transition.