Study of Hospital to Nursing Home Transition Reveals Loss and Despair

A team of University of Alberta nurses probed their plight for a paper they released this month in the hopes it will raise awareness of the situation.

The team, headed by nursing professor Donna Wilson, talked to nine seniors in two hospitals over the course of a year to find out what their lives were like. It was not a happy story.

“To be just sitting in hospital with absolutely nothing to do and no one to visit is quite appalling, really,” says Wilson. “It’s a bleak environment.”

Most elderly people who are admitted to nursing homes pass through hospitals after in-patient acute care has failed to restore them to their previous health state and left them unable to care for themselves. Only 40 per cent move to nursing homes directly from their community.

Studies have shown that hospitalization poses serious hazards for long-term patients, not the least of which is an enhanced risk of infections and medical mishaps, the report says. But perhaps just as serious as the danger to physical health is the risk to mental health. The report cites studies that have shown the transition from home to nursing home is a stressful experience that can exacerbate existing health problems and trigger feelings of anxiety that can result in death.

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