Stroke-Aftercare: an Exploratory Study of Counseling by “Stroke Mentors”
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Background: A standardised stroke aftercare concept does not exist in Germany. Studies on voluntary care concepts are lacking. The aim of this study was to explore the concerns of patients and their relatives in counselling interviews by voluntary stroke mentors and how these concerns were met.Methods: Qualitative study: participatory observation of 12 personal counselling sessions by mentors of the Schlaganfall-Ring Schleswig-Holstein, a patient and relatives organisation, and analysis of 68 anonymous protocols of telephone consultations. Content analysis of field notes, memos and protocols with the software QCAmap according to Mayring. Documentation of the Modified Rankin Scale Score (mRS).Results: Encounters took 45–120, on average 90 minutes. The age of the stroke patients ranged from 40–79 years. mRS values: 1–4. Patients reported physical ailments (paralysis, sensitivity and speech disorders) as well as cognitive and mental disorders (depression, attention and memory disorders). Emotional burdens existed regarding daily routines, dependence, family conflicts and financial problems. Information was sought about stroke as a syndrome and social law issues. Mentors reported on their own disease history and recovery. As a result, patients felt “actually understood” and were motivated to take personal responsibility, to exercise independently and to formulate concrete goals.Conclusions: Due to their personal experiences mentors strengthen stroke patients‘ motivation and self-management abilities. The project is an example for the use of qualified laymen in health care. Further development of the concept in terms of professionalization and scientific analysis regarding long-term results is needed.