Purpose: 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-based group for stroke survivors and their carers. Methods: Over a 5-month period, a staged approach was used to design the intervention and implementation strategies which would maximise the chances of embedding the intervention within an inpatient stroke ward. Implementation strategies included planning, educating, restructuring, financing, and managing quality. Following development and facilitation of the intervention, outcomes were evaluated through collecting data about therapy time, surveys (n = 30) and interviews (n = 18) with participants, and a focus group with staff. Results: Thirty stroke survivors and their carers participated in the Carers Count 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 in the group was a rewarding and engaging experience for participants (client outcomes). Conclusion: Using multifaceted strategies, a group designed to include carers was implemented on a stroke rehabilitation ward. The intervention provided positive outcomes in terms of increased therapy dose and satisfaction according to participant feedback. Clinical Trials registration number: ANZCTR12620000708954Implications for rehabilitation It is possible to develop modes of delivery in rehabilitation that include the carers of stroke survivors and these interventions are considered enjoyable and beneficial. Health professionals should consider interventions that are engaging and fun for stroke survivors and their carers. Health professionals should carefully plan and utilise appropriate implementation strategies when aiming to introduce a new intervention into an established health service. Health professionals should ensure stroke survivors and their carers have an understanding of recovery following stroke and how to maximise outcomes through increasing amount of practice.
- Group exercise
- group exercise