Stroke Recovery Association of BC

Recovering from a Stroke

A Problem-Solving Approach for Caregivers

Adapted from Resources & Education for Stroke Caregivers’ Understanding & Empowerment (RESCUE) For further information please visit

  • As a stroke caregiver, you will face challenges every day.
  • One way of working through these challenges is to use a problem solving approach.
  • What is a Problem-Solving Approach?

A problem-solving approach refers to working through the details of a problem to find a solution.

The COPE Approach to Successful Problem-Solving
Expert Information


Creativity is when you use your imagination to come up with ideas. For example:

  • Viewing the problem from a new perspective
  • Take a step back from the problem
  • Try to view the problem through someone else’s eyes
  • Think about how that person might solve the problem

Tips for Being More Creative

  • Brainstorm a lot of ideas.
  • Don’t be afraid to try new things.
  • Carry around a small notebook to write in. Creative ideas often strike when we least expect it.
  • Talk to others. Listening to how someone else handled a problem may trigger new ideas for you.
  • Think of a time when you have been creative in solving a problem.


Optimism is having a positive attitude and being able to see good in things.
For example:

  • Viewing caregiving as a challenge, not a burden.
  • Thinking good thoughts about yourself and the job you are doing as a caregiver.
  • Giving yourself a pep talk. “I can handle it!” “Good job!”

Tips For Being More Optimistic

  • Practice getting rid of negative thoughts
  • Focus on things you can do
  • Take it one step at a time
  • Replace negative thoughts with positive thinking & good memories
  • Forgive and forget your mistakes
  • Relax about things you can’t change
  • Think of when a positive attitude has helped you handle a problem.


Planning is when you lay out the steps it will take to reach a goal.
The planning steps are:

  • Step 1: Identify your problems.
    Think of all of the problems you are facing. Write them down.
  • Step 2: Prioritize your Problems.
    Number your problems from most burdensome to least. Label the most burdensome problem as #1.
  • Step 3: Identify Your Highest Priority Problem.
    The problem you marked as #1 is your highest priority problem.
  • Step 4: Gather Expert Information.
    Search for information related to your problem. Be sure you get your information from a trusted source. Good Sources of Information Healthcare providers Trusted Websites e.g. Stroke Recovery Association of BC, Heart and Stroke Foundation Medical Books Health care pamphlets or hand-outs
  • Step 5: Set Realistic Goals.
    Choose a small, reasonable goal at first. Once that goal is reached, you will be more confident. You will feel better able to reach the next goal.
  • Step 6: List All Possible Solutions.
    Write down all the solutions you can think of to solve your problem. Along with creative new solutions, think of how you have solved problems in the past. Can a past solution help you solve your current problem
  • Step 7: Choose the Best Solution.
    Weigh the pros and cons of each solution. Select the solution(s) you believe are most likely to be successful.
  • Step 8: Evaluating the plan
    Pick a time to evaluate your plan.
    For example: 1 week, 3 weeks, 1 month.
    Ask yourself: Does my plan seem to be working?
    Is the problem getting better?
    Have I given my plan long enough to see improvement? Do I need to make changes to my plan?


  • How can creativity be useful in the problem-solving approach?
    Answer: Creativity allows you to use your imagination to come up with new ideas on how to solve problems.
  • Why is optimism important in the problem-solving approach?
    Answer: A positive attitude will help you to approach caregiving as a challenge, not a burden.
  • What are the steps in the problem-solving plan?
    Step 1: Identifying the problem
    Step 2: Prioritizing the problem
    Step 3: Selecting the highest priority problem
    Step 4: Gathering Expert Information
    Step 5: Setting realistic goals
    Step 6: Listing all possible solutions
    Step 7: Choosing the best solution
    Step 8: Evaluating the plan



C.O.P.E. can help you face the challenges of caregiving with Creativity and Optimism. You can create a successful Plan by using Expert information.