Abstract 27: Stroke Camp Offers Emotional and Physical Relief for Stroke Caregivers

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Background: Depression, loneliness, and social isolation are common among stroke survivors and caregivers (CG). Stroke camps offer a unique and positive experience for stroke survivors and CG. However, no data was found on impact of a stroke camp experience for CG. The Retreat and Refresh Stroke Camp provides two and a half days of education, recreation and support activities bringing survivors and CG together to share experiences. Camp is staffed by volunteer healthcare providers and therapists. A comprehensive questionnaire was used to conduct a survey of caregiver camp participants. Results are used to assess caregiver burden, education, and support activities

Objectives: Determine the effect of stroke camp on the emotional well being and social conditions of CG.

Study Method: Study was approved by local IRB. A comprehensive tool was used to survey all camp CG. Tool contains questions regarding demographics; items from PHQ-9, Caregiver Strain Index (CSI); effect of camp. Individuals attending camps from 2009 to 2015 were asked to participate. Survey data was collected utilizing SurveyMonkey, compiled and analyzed with descriptive statistic methodology.

Results: Each camp hosted 10-12 stroke survivors and their CG. Sixty seven CG completed the survey. Seventy eight percent were female, 22% were from rural area and 80% of survivors were spouse/significant other. Majority (80%) felt stroke impacted work/ life with top three CSI indices including change in personal plans (64%), being confined to home (43%), and financial strain (40%). Most (75%) noted loss of time/freedom, 50% loss of communication capability, 45% loss of companionship. Half of CG felt overwhelmed/stressed/depressed upon returning home from the hospital. Stroke camp experience has made them feel less alone (79%), recharged (77%) and educated (58%).

Conclusion: Stroke has a major adverse effect on most stroke CG. They must adapt to a new life style to adjust for the care of disabled loved ones. Stroke camp is an effective way of providing peer support, offering emotional relief, and presenting learning opportunities for stroke CG. Its long term impact and cost benefit still needs to be analyzed.

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