To provide understanding of the nurses' role in neurological holistic rehabilitation and identify strategies for the enhancement of rehabilitation services.
Although acute and chronic neurological patients and relatives experience emotional and social changes, most rehabilitation programmes do not deal with non-physical needs or involve nurses, leading to a poor definition and specialisation of the nursing role.
The project took place in two neurological wards of a highly specialised hospital in Spain and lasted 30 months. An individualised nurse-led social rehabilitation programme was planned, implemented and evaluated. The nursing role and care in rehabilitation were explored with 37 nurses and 40 neurological patients and 40 relatives (convenience sampling). Semi-structured interviews and participant observations were developed. Content (QSR NUDIST Vivo v.2.0) and statistical (SPSS v. 13.0) analyses were run.
The lack of time, knowledge and experience, the poor definition of the nursing role and ineffective communication with users limited holistic care in the wards. Some enhancing nursing strategies were proposed and explored: promotion of acceptance/adaptation of the disease through education, reinforcement of the discharge planning and planning of emotional and social choices based on the assessment of individual needs and resources at home.
Nursing professionals are in a privileged position to deal with neurological patients' and carers' holistic needs. Several attributes of the advanced nursing role in rehabilitation teams have been proposed to deal with non-physical aspects of care.
• Rehabilitation needs of neurological patients and carers at hospital have been described. • Nurses' perceptions of their work and role in rehabilitation have been presented. • Clinical strategies to develop the advanced nursing role in holistic neurological rehabilitation have been highlighted.