Hospital discharge: recommendations for performance improvement for family carers of people with dementia Academic Article uri icon

abstract

  • Background. It is acknowledge that discharge planning benefits both consumers and hospitals. What is not widely understood is the experience that the family carer of a person with a dementia has and whether the hospitals meet their in-hospital and post-hospital needs. Objective. To explore whether metropolitan and rural hospital discharge practices meet the needs of the family carer of a person with dementia. Results. Although this and other research indicates that a continuum of care model is beneficial to family caregivers, no evidence has been identified that family carers currently experience this type of quality planning. Family carers were often unaware of the existence of a hospital discharge plan and were rarely engaged in communication about the care of their family member with a dementia or prepared for discharge. Conclusion and recommendations. Discharge planning processes for family carers of people with dementia could be substantially improved. It is recommended that hospitals develop policy, process and procedures that take into account the family carer’s needs, develop key performance indicators and adopt best practice standards that direct discharge planning activities and early engagement of the family carer in healthcare decisions. It is recommended that health professionals be educated on communication, consultation and needs of family carers. What is known about the topic? The literature shows discharge planning can increase in patient and caregiver satisfaction, reduce post-discharge anxiety, reduce unplanned readmissions and reduce post-discharge complications and mortality. To be effective, discharge planning requires interdisciplinary collaboration; yet for people with a dementia there are insufficient system processes to support discharge planning, routine breakdowns in communication between patient, family caregivers and health professionals and inadequate admission and aftercare plans. There is little known about the discharge planning as it effects the family carer’s of people with dementia. What does this paper add? This research provides evidence of the family carer’s experience of metropolitan and rural hospital discharge as it relates to planning, preparation and support. It investigates how well the discharge planning process met the needs of the family carer and what improvements are required if hospital discharge planning is to be more effective. The research identifies a range of initiatives that hospital and health professionals can implement to improve current discharge practices for family carers of people with dementia. What are the implications for practitioners? This report makes recommendations for changes to hospital health systems and the discharge practices of health professionals. Hospitals need to develop policy, process and procedure that take into account family carer’s needs, develop key performance indicators that measure discharge planning practices, and adopt best practice activities that include such items as early engagement of the primary carer’s, the identification of a liaison health professional and implementation of a policy that requires family carers to be involved in and notified of an impending discharge. It is recommended that health professionals be educated on the needs of family carers as it relates to communication and consultation. The primary carer is involved in discussions and decisions about in-hospital and post-hospital treatment regimes and is in agreement with, and competent in, post-discharge treatments, therapies and support services.

publication date

  • 2011