This study compared the functional ability and perceived health status of stroke patients treated by a domiciliary rehabilitation team or by routine hospital-based services after discharge from hospital. Patients discharged from two acute and three rehabilitation hospitals in Nottingham were randomly allocated in three strata (Health Care of the Elderly, General Medical and Stroke Unit) to receive domiciliary or hospital-based care after discharge. Functional recovery was assessed by the Extended Activities of Daily Living (ADL) scale three and six months after discharge and perceived health at six months was measured by the Nottingham Health Profile. A total of 327 eligible patients of 1119 on a register of acute stroke admissions were recruited over 16 months. Overall there were no differences between the groups in their Extended ADL scores at three or six months, or their Nottingham Health Profile scores at six months. In the Stroke Unit stratum, patients treated by the domiciliary team had higher household (p = 0.02) and leisure activity (p = 0.04) scores at six months than those receiving routine care. In the Health Care of the Elderly stratum, death or a move into long-term institutional care at six months occurred less frequently in patients allocated to the routine service, about half of whom attended a geriatric day hospital. Overall there was no difference in the effectiveness of the domiciliary and hospital-based services, although younger stroke unit patients appeared to do better with home therapy while some frail elderly patients might have benefited from day hospital attendance.
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