Discharging older people from hospital to home: what do we know?


Alice Coffey
Catherine McAuley School of Nursing and Midwifery, Brookfield Health Sciences Complex, University College, Cork, Ireland
Telephone: +00353214901459
E-mail: a.coffey@ucc.ie


Aims and objectives.  The aim of this literature review was to examine empirical research to date on hospital discharge and illuminate areas in need of further exploration.

Background.  Discharging older people from hospital has long been associated with difficulties and complications. With a steady increase in the ageing population in Ireland and their use of acute hospital services, the successful management of hospital discharge is now a central concern to health service management.

Methods.  Using a seven-step approach by Stolz et al. [Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences (2004) Vol. 18, 111–119] a keyword database search was conducted which revealed 44 studies that matched the author's inclusion criteria.

Results.  These studies uncover aspects of the discharge process that are in need of further research, and particularly suggest more rigour in the measurement of hospital discharge outcomes.

Relevance to clinical practice.  This review focuses on a very important clinical issue given the predicted increase in the use of acute services by older people and the known vulnerabilities of the interface between hospital and community settings.