Background and purpose: Population ageing in Taiwan is proceeding at an accelerating rate. The percentage of elderly is expected to increase from 9.7% in 2005 to 20% in 2025. As the population ages, more people will suffer from chronic conditions and will need more post-hospital care. Health policies need to adapt itself to meet the changing needs of society. The purposes of this study were to describe the use of post-hospital care among stroke patients in Taipei and to discuss policy implications. Methods: This research used a longitudinal prospective study design, recruiting stroke patients from seven hospitals in the Taipei area. Patients were followed-up for 6 months after discharge with surveys at 1, 3, and 6 months. Information on their needs and uses of post-hospital care was collected. Results: About 9% of patients were institutionalized at 1 month, and the percentage did not vary much throughout the 6 months of the study. Little movement occurred between institutions and homes within 6 months after discharge. Most patients relied on family members to provide assistance with activities of daily living. Little utilization of formal services occurred. The use of foreign care attendants was common, and it increased with time. Few unmet needs were observed for nursing care, while significant unmet needs were observed for rehabilitative services. Discussions: Taiwan is not prepared to adequately meet the care demands of an ageing society. Continuing to support family members with additional home- or community-based services resources should be a policy priority. More efforts should be placed on educating family caregivers about the availability and benefits of community-based services during discharge planning. The use of foreign care attendants has become a mainstream practice. Regulations to protect the rights of foreign care attendants and to improve their quality of care need to be established.
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