A Qualitative Study on the Transfer of Residents Between a Nursing Home and an Emergency Department


Address correspondence to Rose M. McCloskey, Department of Nursing & Health Sciences, University of New Brunswick, P.O. Box 5050, Saint John E2L 4L5, Canada. E-mail: Rose.McCloskey@unbsj.ca


Nursing home (NH) residents who have exacerbations of chronic health conditions or new illnesses must generally go the emergency department (ED) for health care, later returning to the nursing home when it is felt that they are no longer require acute care. Transfers between settings of care are referred to as transitions, and research has shown that residents are at risk of experiencing negative health outcomes during these periods. This article reports on a qualitative study of resident transfers between one NH and one ED in Canada. Data were collected using interviews, participant observation, and examination of institutional policies and standard practices. Three themes emerged from the data: (1) work of executing transfers; (2) creating and exchanging resident information; and (3) feelings of guilt but not being responsible about how residents' transfers occurred. Although completion of organization-specific forms consumed a considerable amount of practitioners' time, they contributed little to resident transfers or to the sharing of information. There is a need for integrated models of care that transcend settings and promote an understanding of the roles and responsibilities of practitioners working along the entire continuum of care.