Developing stroke specific vocational rehabilitation: a soft systems analysis of current service provision

Grant, Mary, Radford, Kathryn, Sinclair, Emma and Terry, Jane (2014) Developing stroke specific vocational rehabilitation: a soft systems analysis of current service provision. Disability and Rehabilitation, 36 (5). pp. 409-417. ISSN 0963-8288

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Purpose: This study aimed to clarify the existing service provision of stroke-specific vocational rehabilitation (VR) in one English county, in order to facilitate future service development. Method: Using soft systems methodology, services in Health, Social Care, Department of Work and Pensions, the voluntary and private sectors, which were identified as supporting return to work after stroke, were mapped using a mixed-methodology approach. Results: A lack of a sanctioned VR pathway meant access to support relied on brokered provision and tacit knowledge. The timing of an intervention was complex and there was a substantial degree of unmet need for mild stroke patients. VR was seen as “non-essential” due to competing commissioning priorities. Service providers from all sectors lacked training and cross-sector partnerships were tenuous and provider roles unclear. Conclusions: Stroke-specific VR should be delivered by an integrated, cross-sector multi-disciplinary team and integrated commissioning between health and other sectors is necessary. Although early intervention is important, support later on in the recovery process is also necessary. Service providers need adequate training to meet the needs of stroke survivors wishing to return to work and better awareness of best practice guidelines. Business cases which demonstrate the efficacy and cost-effectiveness of VR are vital.Implications for Rehabilitation

The timeliness of a vocational rehabilitation (VR) intervention is complex; services need to be responsive to the changing needs of the stroke survivor throughout their recovery process and have better mechanisms to ensure re-entry into the stroke pathway is possible.

Return to work is a recognised health outcome; health services need to develop better mechanisms for interagency/cross sector working and liaison with employers and not assume that VR is beyond their remit. Therapists and non-health service providers should receive sufficient training to meet the needs of stroke survivors wishing to return to work. Rehabilitation teams must decide how to implement national guidance within existing resources and what training is needed to deploy SSVR.

The lack of a sanctioned pathway results in disorganised and patchy provision of VR for stroke survivors; mild stroke patients can fall through the net and receive little or no support. The journey back to work commences at the point of stroke. Mechanisms for identifying acute stroke survivors who were working at onset and for assessing the impact of the stroke on their work need to be put in place. The entire MDT has a role to play. In the absence of a VR specialist, even patients without obvious disability should be referred for ongoing rehabilitation with detailed work assessment and signposted to employment specialists e.g. disability employment advisors EARLY after stroke.

Health-based VR interventions can influence work return and job retention. However, therapists must routinely measure work outcomes to inform their business case and be encouraged to demonstrate these outcomes to local commissioners. Commissioners should consider emerging evidence of early VR interventions on reduced length of stay, health and social care resource use and the wider health benefits of maintaining employment.

Item Type: Article
Schools/Departments: University of Nottingham, UK > Faculty of Medicine and Health Sciences > School of Health Sciences
Identification Number:
Depositing User: Wahid, Ms. Haleema
Date Deposited: 25 Apr 2014 13:28
Last Modified: 04 May 2020 20:16

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