Tensions and constraints for nurses in hospital-in-the-home programmes

Authors

  • Maxine Duke RN BAppScAdvNsg MEd PhD,

    Corresponding author
    1. Associate Professor, School of Nursing, Deakin University, Australia
      Maxine Duke, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia. Email:Maxine.duke@Deakin.edu.au
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  • Annette Street PhD

    1. Professor of Cancer and Palliative Care Studies, Director, LaTrobe/Austin Health Nursing Clinical School, La Trobe University, Australia
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Maxine Duke, School of Nursing, Faculty of Health and Behavioural Sciences, Deakin University, 221 Burwood Highway, Burwood, VIC 3125, Australia. Email:Maxine.duke@Deakin.edu.au

Abstract

Economic necessity constrains health-care expenditure and waiting lists for hospital treatments remain high. As a result, more care is delivered via alternative means, such as same-day surgery initiatives and home-care programmes. Acute care delivered in the home to patients who would otherwise require hospitalization is becoming an increasingly acceptable means of treatment. These Hospital-in-the-Home programmes offer increased comfort while delivering comparable outcomes to many patient groups. The purpose of this paper is to generate discussion concerning the tensions that exist for nurses who practice in the home under the auspices of acute-care institutions. Data drawn from field work that formed part of a critical ethnography is used to generate the discussion. The larger research project explored the constructions of the role of the nurse in four Hospital-in-the-Home programmes in Victoria, Australia. It will be argued that there is significant pressure exerted upon nurses to support the imperative to reduce bed days in acute hospitals by transferring people to their home. At times, this agenda clashes with the nurses’ professional commitment to provide holistic patient care, yet the dilemmas are largely unacknowledged and/or unrecognized by the nurses despite the tension they generate.

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