• community;
  • continuity of care;
  • discharge planning;
  • health care;
  • hospital;
  • liaison nurse;
  • transition of care

Transition of care: an evaluation of the role of the discharge liaison nurse in the Netherlands

Problems in the transition of care from hospital to the home situation have led to the introduction of the discharge liaison nurse role in the Netherlands. A nation-wide hospital survey was carried out to gain insight into the role and function of discharge professionals. It was found that 56 of the 117 hospitals in the Netherlands (48%) have a special discharge professional. The discharge professional is a relatively new concept. On average it covers a full-time position. The function differs greatly between hospitals. Three working profiles can be distinguished: the organizational type, the advisory type and the policy-making type. In most cases the discharge professional is a nurse from a community agency based in the hospital and therefore best fits the description of a discharge liaison nurse. Of the 56 hospital-based initiatives involving discharge professionals, 11 (20%) have been systematically evaluated. A critical review of these evaluation studies showed a positive outcome on some aspects of quality of care, but no results were given on efficiency aspects. There was general appreciation of the discharge liaison nurse and continuation of the function was widely recommended. The quality of the evaluation studies was rather poor, and it is suggested that more substantial research should be carried out on this relatively new function.