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Experiences of Older Adults in Transition from Hospital to Community*

  • Elena Neiterman (a1), Walter P. Wodchis (a2) (a3) (a4) and Ivy Lynn Bourgeault (a5) (a6) (a7)

This study examined how patients experience transitions to community from hospitals, inclusive of daily living problems and medical concerns. Analysing qualitative data from interviews with 36 individuals including 17 high-risk older adults with multiple chronic health conditions recently discharged from hospital, and 19 family members who provided the patients with ongoing care, we asked (1) What are the challenges that patients experience in transitioning home from the hospital, and (2) What are the system and policy solutions that can address the challenges these patients experience? Our findings reveal both short- and long-term challenges associated with transitions back home. Short-term challenges include preparing the dwelling for the patient and understanding the organization of care at home. Long-term challenges are associated with practical and emotional concerns. Reflecting on our findings, we suggest that patients’ social needs may be equally important to their medical needs during post-discharge recovery, and we discuss implications for policy.

Cette étude a examiné comment les patients éprouvent des transitions à la communauté des hôpitaux, y compris les problèmes de la vie quotidienne et les préoccupations médicales. Grâce à l'analyse de données qualitatives à partir d'entretiens avec 36 personnes, y compris 17 adultes âgées à haut risque avec des problèmes multiples de santé chroniques, récemment sortis de l'hôpital, et 19 membres de la famille qui ont fourni les patients avec des soins continus, nous avons demandé (1) quels sont les défis que les patients éprouvent dans la transition de l'hôpital, et (2) quelles sont les solutions de systèmes et politiques qui peuvent répondre aux défis que ces patients éprouvent? Nos résultats révèlent des défis à court et a long terme associés aux transitions à la maison. Les défis à court terme comprennent la préparation de l'habitation pour le patient et la compréhension de l'organisation des soins à la maison. Les défis à long terme sont associés à des problèmes pratiques et émotionnels. Réfléchissant sur nos résultats, nous suggérons que les besoins sociaux des patients peuvent être d'une importance égale à leurs besoins médicaux lors de la récupération post-décharge, et nous discutons les implications pour la politique.

Corresponding author
La correspondance et les demandes de tirés-à-part doivent être adressées à: / Correspondence and requests for offprints should be sent to: Elena Neiterman, Ph.D. Assistant Professor Department of Sociology McMaster University 1280 Main St. W. Hamilton, ON L8S 4M4 (
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This research was supported with funding from the Health System Performance Research Network (of which Walter Wodchis is the principal investigator) and supported in part by grants from the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. The opinions, results, and conclusions are those of the authors with no endorsement by the Ontario Ministry of Health and Long-Term Care. We would also like to thank Kate Leslie for her support in conducting the interviews.

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Canadian Journal on Aging / La Revue canadienne du vieillissement
  • ISSN: 0714-9808
  • EISSN: 1710-1107
  • URL: /core/journals/canadian-journal-on-aging-la-revue-canadienne-du-vieillissement
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