Acute care readmissions of older people are an ongoing concern in many countries. Occupational therapists are well positioned to play a significant role in contributing to improved outcomes and fewer readmissions following discharge from acute hospitals, yet there is a lack of empirical evidence to support this claim.
This study used a retrospective clinical audit of secondary hospital data to investigate and describe the time spent on occupational therapy, and the range of occupational therapy and other allied health services provided to older people admitted to acute care, in one Australian health care service.
Occupational therapists conducted numerous assessments and interventions to support patients and to prepare them for safe discharge home. Occupational therapy was significantly associated with length of stay. Readmission was not related directly or significantly to time spent in occupational therapy or any other factor included in this study. However, of the people who received occupational therapy, there was a higher percentage readmitted when they had more services already in place on admission and when they lived alone.
This study provides preliminary evidence regarding the contact time and range of occupational therapy assessments and interventions provided to older people in the acute hospital setting.