"Early intervention for those who develop a health condition should be provided by healthcare professionals who increasingly see retention in or return to work as a key outcome in the treatment and care of working age people."
Dame Carol Black, 2008
Every year more than 10,000 working age people suffer a stroke. Although returning to work is a key goal and critical to health, wellbeing and financial independence, less than half of stroke survivors return and many who would like to work can't access the support they need to do so.
Stroke rehabilitation often acts as a barrier in that it ends prematurely, intervenes too late or lacks content to facilitate a return to work. Despite national policy directives supporting the establishment of vocational rehabilitation (VR) services, conflicting commissioning priorities, a lack of robust evidence and poor descriptions of content to inform service delivery and local commissioning mean that it is not routinely delivered, and where it is, services are often limited. Only 37% of PCTs provide rehabilitation that addresses work needs (Quality Care Commission, 2011).
This study addresses the problem of getting stroke survivors back to work after a stroke. We want to understand more about the ways in which stroke survivors are currently supported to return to work by existing services in heath and social care, the Department for Work and Pensions and the independent and voluntary sectors and the factors that help or hinder them on this journey. By identifying service gaps and unmet need, we hope to develop and test a stroke specific return to work intervention that is acceptable to stroke survivors and employers and which can be implemented in the NHS.
Therefore the purpose of this study is to design a vocational rehabilitation service for stroke survivors by first exploring:
Preliminary systems analysis and stakeholder interview findings: