Patients who undergo the complex series of transitions from the hospital to a skilled nursing facility (SNF) back to home represent a unique patient population with multiple comorbidities and impaired functional abilities. The needs and outcomes of patients who are discharged from the hospital to SNF before returning home are understudied in care transitions scholarship.
To study the patient and caregiver challenges and perspectives on transitions from the hospital to the SNF and back to home.
Between 48 h and 1 week after discharge from the SNF, semi-structured interviews were performed with a convenience sample of patients and caregivers in their homes. Within 1 to 2 weeks after the baseline interview, follow-up interviews were performed over the phone.
A total of 39 interviewees comprised older adults undergoing the series of transitions from hospital to skilled nursing facility to home and their informal caregivers.
A constructionist, grounded-theory approach was used to code the interviews, identify major themes and subthemes, and develop a theoretical model explaining the outcomes of the SNF to home transition.
The mean age of the patients was 76.6 years and 64.8 years for the caregivers. Four major themes were identified: comforts of home, information needs, post-SNF care, and independence. Patients noted an extended time away from home and were motivated to return to and remain in the home. Information needs were variably met and affected post-SNF care, including medication management, appointments, and therapy gains and setbacks. Interviewees identified independent function at home as the most important outcome of the transition home.
Post-SNF in home support is needed rapidly after discharge from the SNF to prevent adverse outcomes. In-home support needs to be highly individualized based on a patient’s and caregiver’s unique situation and needs.