SAMJ: South African Medical Journal
On-line version ISSN 2078-5135
Print version ISSN 0256-9574
BACKGROUND: To develop a community-based model of stroke care, we assessed discharge planning of stroke patients, available resources and continuity of care between hospital and community in a remote rural setting in South Africa. We sought to determine outcomes, family participation and support needs, and implementation of secondary prevention strategies. METHODS: Thirty consecutive stroke patients from the local hospital were assessed clinically (including Barthel index and modified Rankin scores) at time of discharge and re-assessed 3 months after discharge in their homes by a trained field worker using a structured questionnaire. RESULTS: Two-thirds of all families received no stroke education before discharge. At discharge, 27 (90%) were either bed- or chair-bound. All patients were discharged into family care as there was no stroke rehabilitation facility available to the community. Of the 30 patients recruited, 20 (66.7%) were alive at 3 months, 9 (30%) had died, and 1 was lost to follow-up. At 3 months, 55% of the remaining cohort were independently mobile compared with 10% at discharge. Of the 20 surviving patients, 13 (65%) were visited by home-based carers. Only 45% reported taking aspirin at 3 months. CONCLUSIONS: The 3-month mortality rate was high. Most survivors improved functionally but were left with significant disability. Measures to improve family education and the level of home-based care can be introduced in a model of stroke care attempting to reduce carer strain and reduce the degree of functional disability in rural stroke patients.