Family-assisted therapy empowered families of older people transitioning from hospital to the community: a qualitative study Academic Article uri icon


  • QUESTION:What is the experience of patients and families participating in a family-assisted therapy intervention to augment physiotherapy in Transition Care? DESIGN:Qualitative study using an interpretive description framework. PARTICIPANTS:Thirteen patients and 18 family members of patients in a Transition Care Program, who had participated in a family-assisted therapy intervention. INTERVENTION:A 4-week family-assisted therapy program to augment usual physiotherapy care. Families were trained and supported by a physiotherapist to assist with safe and simple activities tailored to the patient's goals. DATA COLLECTION AND ANALYSIS:Semi-structured interviews were audio-recorded and transcribed verbatim. Researchers independently coded transcripts line by line, and themes and subthemes were derived inductively. Qualitative results were triangulated with quantitative outcomes from a concurrent randomised controlled trial. RESULTS:The unifying theme was that family-assisted therapy empowered families in a healthcare setting. There were four subthemes: families made a complementary contribution to rehabilitation; family-assisted therapy brought physical and psychosocial benefits; simplicity, boundaries, training and support were important elements of the family-assisted therapy program; and implementation of family-assisted therapy requires a supportive policy and environment. Findings largely converged with quantitative outcomes from the randomised controlled trial. CONCLUSION:Family-assisted therapy to augment usual physiotherapy care was a positive and empowering experience for patients and families in Transition Care. This study indicates that family-assisted therapy may increase opportunities for physical activity and, importantly, engage family in a meaningful activity that gives them a genuine role in the healthcare team. TRIAL REGISTRATION:ACTRN12616000565448.

publication date

  • 2019