Components of a proper hospital discharge for elders


Margaret Bull, Marquette University College of Nursing, Clark Hall, PO Box 1881, Milwaukee, WI 53201–1881, USA. E-mail:


Components of a proper hospital discharge for elders

Significance. Effective discharge planning is a vital link in continuity of care for elders. Previous studies identify problems with planning for elders’ discharge from the hospital and problems elders encounter managing care post-discharge. However, little attention has been given to identifying effective discharge planning processes. Explicating the components of effective discharge planning is critical to replicate the process in other health care settings and predict post-discharge outcomes.

Purpose. The purpose of this study was to identify the components of effective discharge planning for elders and factors that impede planning.

Methods. Ethical approvals were obtained from the University and National Health Service (NHS) Trust. Qualitative methods were used and data were collected from two wards in a 78-bed geriatric rehabilitation hospital that was part of a National Health Service Trust serving Southwest London. Data included semi-structured interviews and documents related to discharge planning, care delivery, and community resources. A total of 24 semi-structured interviews were conducted with health care professionals who were part of the hospital’s multidisciplinary team, those affiliated with the Community Trust that provided aftercare, elders, and family carers.

Results. Participants consistently used the term ‘proper discharge’ when referring to effective discharge planning. The multidisciplinary team comprised a vital context for a proper discharge. The findings indicated that three circles of communication were central in a four stage discharge process. Different circles of communication were key at different stages.

Conclusions. The findings provide insights for educating nurses about effective planning practices and examining the global significance of impediments to a proper hospital discharge.