The objective of this study was to explore, from a nursing perspective, the effectiveness of geriatric wards in preparing elderly patients for discharge from an acute care hospital. A convenience sample of 40 patients aged 70 years or older was obtained from three geriatric medical wards and two general medical wards of a large British teaching hospital. Data were collected immediately prior to discharge, and after 6 and 13 weeks following discharge. No meaningful differences were found between the two patient-groups in their ability to cope with activities of daily living following discharge. The majority of deaths and/or hospital readmissions occurred within 6 weeks of discharge. A major concern identified in both groups was patients’ lack of knowledge about medications and their side-effects. A need for more effective teaching programmes for elderly patients was identified.