The influence of sociodemographic factors and close relatives at hospital discharge and post hospital care of older people with complex care needs: nurses' perceptions on health inequity in three Nordic cities

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Hospital discharge of older people in need of both medical and social care following their hospital stay requires extensive coordination. This study aims to examine and compare the views of nurses in three Nordic cities on the influence of sociodemographic factors and having close relatives, for the hospital discharge and post hospital care of older people with complex health and social care needs. Thirty-five semi-structured interviews (Copenhagen n = 11, Tampere n = 8, Stockholm n = 16) with nurses were conducted. The nurses were identified through the researchers' networks, invitation and snowball sampling, and recruited from hospitals, primary care practices, home care units, home nursing units, and geriatric departments. The interviews were transcribed and analysed using thematic analysis. Interpretations were discussed and agreed within the team. Four main themes and 13 sub-themes were identified. Across the cities, informants reported that the patient's health status, rather than their gender or ethnicity, steered the discharge date and further care. Care costs, commonly reported in Tampere but also in Copenhagen and Stockholm including costs for medications and home help, were considered barriers for disadvantaged older people. Home situation, local arrangements and differences in collaboration between healthcare professionals at different sites also influenced the hospital discharge. Generally, the patient's health status steered the hospital discharge and post-hospital care. Close relatives were regarded important and a potential advantage. Some informants tried to compensate for the absence of close relatives, highlighting the importance of care systems that can compensate for this to minimise avoidable inequity.

Original languageEnglish
JournalEuropean Journal of Ageing
Pages (from-to)189–200
Number of pages12
Publication statusPublished - 2022

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