Expectations and experiences of older people and their carers in relation to emergency department arrival and care: A qualitative study in Australia

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Although older people frequently present to the emergency department (ED), little is known about their experiences in this setting, despite increasing attendance rates reported in this population internationally. This study explores the experiences of older people and their carers leading to and during ED care in a metropolitan university hospital in Sydney, Australia. The study forms part of a larger prospective exploratory study on this topic. Individual in-depth interviews were conducted with 10 people over 65 years of age who had a chronic illness and their carers one month after they presented to the ED. Interviews were transcribed verbatim and analyzed using general interpretive methods. The results revealed that the participants presented to the ED as a result of escalating symptoms and on their general practitioner's advice. Participants felt uninformed about ED procedures, therefore, families/carers felt the need to advocate for information and basic services. Participants were grateful for the care received and mindful of the busy environment. To meet the expectations of older people, nurses need to provide timely information and advise carers how they can assist.

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