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Community services' involvement in the discharge of older adults from hospital into the community

18 Sep 2013

Background: Community services are playing an increasing role in supporting older adults who are discharged from hospital with ongoing non-acute care needs.  However, there is a paucity of information regarding how community services are involved in the discharge process of older individuals from hospital into the community. 

Methods: 29 databases were searched from 1980 to 2012 (inclusive) for relevant primary published research, of any study design, as well as relevant unpublished work (e.g. clinical guidelines) which investigated community services’ involvement in the discharge of older individuals from hospital into the community. Data analysis and quality appraisal (using McMaster critical appraisal tools) was undertaken predominately by the lead author.  Data was synthesised qualitatively.

Results: 12 papers were eligible for inclusion (five randomised controlled trials, four before and after studies and three controlled trials), involving a total of 8440 older adults (> 65 years).  These papers reported on a range of interventions.  During data synthesis, descriptors were assigned to four emergent discharge methods: Virtual Interface Model, In-reach Interface Model, Out-reach Interface Model, and Independent Interface Model.   In each model, the findings were mixed in terms of healthcare and patient and carer outcomes. 

Conclusions: It is plausible that each model identified in this systematic review has a role to play in successfully discharging different cohorts of older adults from hospital.  Further research is required to identify appropriate population groups for various discharge models, and to select suitable outcomes measures to determine the effectiveness of these models, considering all stakeholders' involved.

18 September 2013

Click here to view the full article which appeared in International Journal of Integrated Care