Nursing and Allied Health Staff Perceptions and Experiences of a Volunteer Stroke Peer Support Program: A Qualitative Study


Date of Publication: December 2021

Authors: Saunders, R., Chan, K., Graham, R. M., Adams, E., Bulsara, C. E., Seaman, K., & Cranny-Connolly, M.

Published by: Journal of Multidisciplinary Healthcare

Stroke survivors often feel unsure about how the effects of their stroke will impact them and how they will cope when they are discharged from hospital. Stroke peer support programs involve former stroke survivors and their family carers who visit patients in hospital who have recently had a stroke and their families.  Peer support stroke survivors work alongside doctors, nurses, and allied health staff (physiotherapists, speech therapists, occupational therapists, and dietitians) to prepare inpatients for discharge. These programs are reported to be helpful to inpatient stroke survivors and their families, but little is known about the staff experiences of these programs.

This study explored the perceptions and experiences of nursing and allied health staff of a volunteer peer support program for stroke inpatients using a qualitative case study design. It was conducted at a public metropolitan hospital in Western Australia that had developed a stroke peer support program on a rehabilitation ward. A sample of nurses (n = 5) and multidisciplinary allied health staff (n = 5) were recruited from the ward where the program was provided for stroke inpatients. Semi-structured, face-to-face interviews were conducted with staff participants.

Nursing and allied health staff perceived the program as valuable to stroke patients’ rehabilitation and beneficial to families, volunteer peers, and staff. Four themes encapsulated the findings: awareness of and involvement in the program; recognising the benefits of the program; perceived enablers and barriers of the program, and suggestions for the future of the program.

The study’s findings confirm volunteer peer support can provide valuable and fundamental adjunct support to address stroke patients’ unmet needs, as well as supporting staff to enhance stroke patient care.

The full report is available here.