Discharge Planning Quality from the Carer Perspective
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Discharge planning endeavours to assist the transition of patients from the acute hospital setting into the community. We examined the quality of discharge planning from the perspective of the carer. Spouses were the most common carers for the elderly patients in our study. Many carers were also elderly, with their own health problems. Using a new instrument (entitled PREPARED) (K. Grimmer and J. Moss, Int J Qual Health Care (in press)), carers rated the quality of planning for discharge much lower than did the patient, indicating that their needs were often not met when discharge was being planned. In free text responses, carers expressed their dissatisfaction over communication about how the family would cope once the patient went home. Carers generally had lower summary mental quality of life scores than the Australian norms (as measured by the SF-36 health survey (J. Ware and R. Sherbourne, Med Care 1992; 30: 473–483)), suggesting that the caring role may have impacted upon their emotional wellbeing. The rate of use of community services in the first week post-discharge was low, suggesting that carers and patients carried the majority of the burden immediately after discharge. We suggest that planning for hospital discharge requires more consideration of the carer.
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