Managing post-discharge care at home: an analysis of patients’ and their carers’ perceptions of information received during their stay in hospital
This small-scale study carried out in a Melbourne metropolitan hospital explored patients’ and their carers’ perceptions of information, adequacy of information, and their utilization of information concerning post-discharge care received from health professionals during their stay in hospital. The research design consisted of two stages. Stage one involved a qualitative approach using focused interviews of five pairs of patients and their carers, 2 weeks after discharge from hospital. Five main themes emerged from the content analysis of the interview transcripts: information given by health professionals to patients and carers, patients’ and carers’ psychological well-being, activities of daily living, caring tasks of the patients, and community linkages. A quantitative approach was used for stage two involving two sets of questionnaires, one for the patient and one for the carer, developed from the themes identified in stage one. A pilot study was conducted on three pairs of patients and their carers, 2 weeks after discharge from hospital. The main study consisted of a convenience sample of 40 pairs of patients and their carers who completed the questionnaires 2 weeks post-discharge. Data analysis of stage two of the study consisted of descriptive statistics and cross-tabulations. The main findings suggested that carers received very little information from health professionals concerning their patients’ health problems and care at home. The carers’ health and employment states were often not considered in their patients’ discharge plan. Carers who were present with their patients when they received information concerning post-discharge care experienced a decrease in anxiety during their patients’ convalescence at home, greater satisfaction with the information they received, and their patients experienced fewer medical problems post-discharge. The implications for nursing practice and research include recommendations for a more effective system of discharge planning, and further research to include a larger population with a more varied group of participants.