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The process of hospital discharge for medical patients: A model

Lookup NU author(s): Professor Pauline Pearson, Dr Jane Wilcockson


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Background. The 1990 NHS Community Care Act established a requirement for hospital discharge policies and procedures in the United Kingdom to be developed in collaboration with local government authorities in order to ensure supported discharge for those in need. Aims. The aim of the study reported in this paper was to track decisions about hospital discharge in relation to outcomes for a sample of medical patients and their carers, identified as at risk of experiencing unsuccessful discharge processes. Methods. Themed unstructured interviews were conducted in three different hospitals with 30 patients identified as at risk of unsuccessful discharge and their carers pre- and postdischarge. Hospital, community and social care staff involved in the care of the patient were also interviewed. Findings. Patients and carers were constantly negotiating their social roles, seeking to juggle appropriate identities and limited resources to maintain their own and each others' dignity and quality of life. When the negotiation process was destabilized (for example, by exacerbation of chronic disease, withdrawal of some resource, or the experience of additional stressors - not necessarily health-related), then either or both parties sought a way out. In all the cases examined the result was admission to hospital - usually, but not always, mediated by community professionals. Conclusions. The effective discharge of patients from hospital needs to move from a functional focus on symptom management to a negotiation of quality of life that seeks to promote health for all parties involved.

Publication metadata

Author(s): Pearson P, Procter S, Wilcockson J, Allgar V

Publication type: Article

Publication status: Published

Journal: Journal of Advanced Nursing

Year: 2004

Volume: 46

Issue: 5

Pages: 496-505

ISSN (print): 0309-2402

ISSN (electronic): 1365-2648

Publisher: Wiley-Blackwell


DOI: 10.1111/j.1365-2648.2004.03023.x

PubMed id: 15139938


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