Their findings came from interviews with 74 nurses at 24 Glasgow care homes. Although over a quarter of the nurses had undertaken some form of stroke education in the past five years, the researchers found only 4% had an accredited qualification.
Nearly two-thirds (61.6%) said they were not aware of the available training options, and a fifth said that lack of employer encouragement made it difficult to access stroke education.
The Stroke Association says stroke is a contributing factor for up to 40% of residents entering care homes. Yet almost half of the nurses interviewed did not see stroke as a priority learning need in their workplace.
Campbell Chalmers, secretary of the Scottish Stroke Nurses Forum and stroke nurse consultant at NHS Lanarkshire, said: ‘This reflects care home nurses’ lack of recognition of the importance of the knowledge and skills needed to deliver quality care [to stroke patients]. But nurses also need support, in time and funding, to access training.’
Sue Thomas, RCN adviser for long-term conditions, said: ‘This study raises issues that need to be addressed. Stroke patients in care homes can often be forgotten but they can be given rehabilitation and the condition can be managed – provided staff know how to handle things.
‘Education has to be in an accessible format, and managers need to give staff protected time to undertake training,’ she added.
Meanwhile the UK is lagging behind other European countries in its progress in treating stroke, according to a Health Foundation report. In Germany there was a 33% reduction in stroke mortality between 1997 and 2004, compared with a 16% reduction in the UK, the report says.