To describe and test a model for structured nursing assessment and intervention to older people discharged from emergency department (ED).
Older people recently discharged from hospital are at high risk of readmission. This risk may increase when they are discharged straight home from an ED as time pressure requires staff to focus on the presenting problem although many have complex, unresolved, care needs.
A prospective descriptive pilot study was conducted. Older people aged 70 and over and at risk of adverse health and functional outcome were included.
At discharge, and at 1 and 6 months follow-up, a brief standardised nursing assessment (ISAR 2) developed by McCusker et al. was carried out. The focus was on unresolved problems that required medical or nursing intervention, new or different home care services or comprehensive geriatric assessment. After assessment, the nurse made relevant referrals to the geriatric outpatient clinic, community health centre, general practitioner or made arrangements with next of kin.
One hundred and fifty people participated, mean age was 81.7. At discharge, they had a mean of 1.9 unresolved problems, after 1 month 0.8, and after 6 months 0.4. Older people receiving home care services increased from 79% at discharge to 89% at 1 month and 90% at 6 months follow-up.
ISAR 2 works well in a Danish ED setting and intercepts older peoples' problems. It seems that unresolved problems decrease when a nurse assesses and intervenes at discharge from ED, and at follow-up. However, a randomised controlled test should be carried out to confirm this.
Nursing assessment and intervention should be implemented in the ED to reduce older peoples' unrevealed problems.