Family Caregivers' Experiences During Transitions Out of Hospital

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Abstract

Background:

Family caregivers play a central yet under recognized role in ensuring quality and safety during a loved one's transition out of the hospital.

Objective:

To explore facilitators and challenges family caregivers face in assuming postdischarge family caregiving roles and completing complex care tasks.

Methods:

A qualitative study recruited 32 participants from 4 sites. Participants were unpaid family caregivers whose loved one was recently discharged from an acute care hospital. A modified Grounded Theory approach was used.

Results:

Five central themes emerged from the analysis: (1) family caregivers' contributions to the care of their loved one unfold along on a spectrum where the readiness, willingness, and ability of both parties are often dynamic; (2) family caregivers have unique and potentially incongruent goals from those of the patient; (3) family caregivers feel unprepared for postdischarge medication management; (4) family caregivers encouragement to assert an identity; (5) family caregivers often assume the responsibility for the sequencing of posthospital care plan tasks and anticipating next steps.

Conclusion:

Family caregivers provided valuable insights into the challenges they face facilitating their loved ones' transitions. These findings may directly inform the design and testing of an evidence-based intervention to enhance their roles.

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