Pre‐discharge home visits: A qualitative exploration of the experience of occupational therapists and multidisciplinary stakeholders
Godfrey, M., Cornwell, P., Eames, S., Hodson, T., Thomas, T. & Gillen, A
Introduction: The evidence base surrounding occupational therapy pre‐discharge home visits discusses current practices, potential beneficial outcomes and limitations. However, research is limited, regarding how clinical teams determine which patients receive this service. This study aims to explore perceptions of occupational therapists and multidisciplinary stakeholders concerning pre‐discharge home visits through their experiences and current practice in the Australian context.
Method: A qualitative descriptive approach, using thematic analysis, was employed. Four focus groups were included, comprising 27 health professionals: novice occupational therapists (n = 6), experienced occupational therapists (n = 8), occupational therapy managers (n = 5), and multidisciplinary team members (n = 8).
Results: Three key themes relating to pre‐discharge home visits in clinical practice emerged. The first theme of ‘Recognition of Clinical Factors’ reflected that aspects of the person's occupational performance, environmental and care needs, were prime indicators considered for a pre‐discharge home visit. Secondly, ‘Contextual and Pragmatic Influences’, described clinical setting realities as being significant considerations and strongly mediating practice. A third theme of ‘Perceptions of Value’ showed awareness of the utility of pre‐discharge home visits, while also recognising need to enhance ongoing practice.
Conclusion: This qualitative study provides information on factors influencing decision‐making regarding pre‐discharge home visits from the hospital setting. Clinical factors were presented as key considerations, but clinicians’ experiences and perceptions of contextual influences suggest an explanatory factor for practice variation. While multidisciplinary stakeholders’ broadly demonstrated similar rationales for pre‐discharge home visits as those of occupational therapists, therapists’ decision‐making processes for pre‐discharge home visits were shaped by their experience level. Clinicians’ experience finds pre‐discharge home visits to have value and in the absence of clear evidence‐based criteria for whom this element of practice should be provided, participants supported the development of a decision‐making support tool to assist in decision‐making.