Developing and implementing an exercise group for stroke survivors and their carers: the Carers Count group

Mrs Tamina Levy1,2, Dr Maggie Killington2,3, A/Professor Kate Laver1,2, Professor Natasha Lannin4, Professor Maria Crotty1,2

1Flinders Medical Centre, Adelaide, Australia, 2Flinders University, Adelaide, Australia, 3SABIRS, Adelaide, Australia, 4Monash University, Melbourne, Australia

: Guidelines recommend that carers of stroke survivors should be engaged early in rehabilitation. There has been limited research implementing exercise programs that include carers. The aims of this study were to develop, facilitate and evaluate an intervention, the Carers Count group, an exercise group for stroke survivors and their carers.

Methods: A pilot implementation study was conducted. Following development and facilitation of the intervention, outcomes were evaluated through collecting data about therapy time, surveys and interviews with participants, and a focus group with staff.

Results: Over a 5-month period, 30 stroke survivors and their carers participated in the group. Analysis of time spent in therapy showed that participation led to increased dose of physiotherapy time (service outcome). Survey and interview data suggested that participation was a rewarding and engaging experience for participants (client outcomes).

Conclusion: Using multifaceted strategies, a group designed to include carers in exercise was successfully implemented on a stroke rehabilitation ward. The intervention provided positive outcomes in terms of increased therapy dose and satisfaction according to participant feedback.

Key practice points:

  • It is possible to develop novel modes of delivery that include the carers of stroke survivors within the hospital inpatient environment
  • Carers of some stroke survivors value being involved in early post-stroke rehabilitation and report benefits including a greater understanding of recovery following stroke
  • Health professionals should assess the capability and willingness of the individual carers to be involved and develop programs that enable as much carer participation as possible


Tamina is a physiotherapist of over 30 years experience, currently working as Advanced Practitioner, Neurological Rehabilitation at Flinders Medical Centre, Rehabilitation and Palliative Services. She also works at Flinders University and is committed to evidence-based practice. She has recently submitted her PhD which explored adherence to exercise in stroke survivors.

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