Most of the participants in a recent study examining the process of choosing a skilled nursing (or post-acute care) facility reported having a negative experience during the process.

Researchers who performed the study—published recently in Journal of the American Geriatrics Society—suggest possible solutions include slowing down the process so it isn’t rushed, and having enough information available so that an informed choice can be made.

In their study, the team of researchers interviewed 98 older adults who had just been admitted to a skilled nursing facility. In 90 interviews in five cities across the country, the researchers spoke only to the older adult. A family member participated in the other eight interviews, according to a media release from the American Geriatrics Society.

Among the people interviewed, per the release:

  • Seventy-eight had been admitted to the hospital due to an emergency—usually a fall (30 people), cancer (eight people), or an infection (seven people).
  • Nineteen people had planned hospitalizations, mostly for joint replacements. Only nine of them had chosen a skilled nursing facility before their surgeries.
  • Most people said they had to choose a skilled nursing facility the day before or even the day of being discharged from the hospital.
  • Sixty-six study participants chose a skilled nursing facility on their own; 19 people had a family member or friend make the decision. The hospital staff chose the facility for 12 individuals.
  • Thirty-five patients had previously stayed in the skilled nursing facility they’d chosen; 54 people had never stayed in a skilled nursing facility before.

Additionally, most study participants reported having a negative experience choosing a nursing facility. For example, some respondents said:

  • They had very little time to choose a skilled nursing facility.
  • Hospital discharge planners simply gave them lists of facility names and addresses.
  • Healthcare professionals involved in their care gave older adults little guidance about choices.

Important factors in choosing a skilled nursing facility included whether the older adult or family/friends had been to the facility and whether the facility was close to home. Only a few people reported choosing facilities based on more/better staff, cleanliness, or amenities, the release adds.

The researchers conclude, per the release, that the decision to choose a skilled nursing facility post-discharge from the hospital tends to be rushed. In addition, they note that older adults are rarely given enough information to make an informed choice.

Improvements in both communication and information provision could help improve not only one’s well-being but also one’s experiences with the healthcare system, they state.

[Source(s): American Geriatrics Society, Science Daily]