The following is a summary of “Enhancing the role of the social network in activity (re)engagement post-stroke: a focus group study with rehabilitation professionals” published in the November 2022 issue of Primary Care by Veen et al.

Following a stroke, a person’s ability to take part in enjoyable activities may be impaired after a stroke. Rehab workers should help those recovering from a stroke get ready for life at home and be there to offer assistance whenever it’s needed. Many writers have advocated for the involvement of the patient’s extended support system in the recovery process. This involves educating them on the value of activity (re)engagement after stroke and teaching them techniques to help them get back into action. When and how the vast social network can be best prepared to give sufficient activity support is not always obvious. The purpose of this research was to investigate the views of stroke experts on techniques that help people build social networks that facilitate activity (re)engagement after a stroke, when these tactics are most effective and what factors play a role in their adoption. Researchers  held 2 different focus groups. Transcriptions of the recorded talks were analyzed using a content analysis technique.

There were 18 professionals involved, each with a unique specialty in treating stroke survivors. It was determined that locating, expanding, informing, and actively involving network members were all effective strategies for building a social support system. Involving the network early on after a stroke would significantly impact the patient’s ability to return to normal activities. Participants said that community care settings are where more efforts should be made to prepare social networks to help people after a stroke. However, the participants had trouble putting their network tactics into action. Interprofessional work, expert knowledge, confidence in one’s own abilities, and available resources were named as some of the obstacles.

There needs to be more comprehensive strategies to involve people’s social networks after a stroke. Social network identification should begin during inpatient rehabilitation, but the bulk of network engagement should occur once stroke survivors return home. Implementing social network strategies calls for a methodical approach that prioritizes teamwork, education, and practice.