Greater Manchester Stroke Assessment Tool has national impact

Working with patients, carers and professionals, the CLAHRC for Greater Manchester has developed an evidence-based tool to help stroke survivors identify their unmet needs. The project has been supported by The Stroke Association, which is using it in commissioned services to carry out 6 month reviews (as required in a Nice Clinical Commissioning Group Outcome Indicator Set). The tool was developed in 2010 and is free to download.

The tool is designed to help stroke services carry out 6 month reviews with stroke survivors. Other uses described by participants included reviews with vulnerable adults, developing local evidence-bases, improving service referrals, and as a continuing professional development training tool.

To find out how the tool was being used and by whom, the CLAHRC for Greater Manchester carried out an evaluation. We contacted known users to interview them about why they were using GM-SAT, what they were using the tool for and any barriers or challenges they had experienced. We also looked at the metadata from the website where the tool is available to download, to estimate the effect of different promotional events and the number of hits.

We found that the tool is being used by stroke service providers all over the country. Within the Stroke Association alone, at least 24 services are using the tool across England, and this number is set to rise to include services in Wales and Scotland. The Stroke Association is responsible for 362 services across the UK. More than half of these provide services where the use of GM-SAT would be appropriate. The number of potential patients who may be affected by these services is therefore significant, and to date over 4,000 patients have already been reviewed by Stroke Association staff.

Most users said the tool is easy to use and can be easily tweaked to fit local circumstances. There were some challenges surrounding the technology (such as different Microsoft Word programme versions being incompatible across the NHS). People value the tool because it is evidence-based, comprehensive, and meets national and local commissioning priorities. In addition, the tool can be used by a wide range of professionals, both clinical and non-clinical, providing they understand the terminology used.

We learned that actively promoting CLAHRC for Greater Manchester outputs helps to increase the impact of our work, which is valued by health professionals for being high-quality and evidence-based. Targeted and active dissemination helped potential users to find and use the GM-SAT. In total, the GM-SAT web page was viewed over 1600 times between February and October 2012, and nearly 1000 times between January and May 2013. There was an increase in the number of hits after promotional events and major presentations. Having face-to-face contact with the team, and having personalised responses to request for help, increased the impact of the tool.

For more information please read the full evaluation report.