A health visitor for older people in an accident and emergency department

Br J Community Nurs. 2000 Feb;5(2):75-80. doi: 10.12968/bjcn.2000.5.2.7167.


Published studies indicate that older people have special needs on discharge from accident and emergency (A&E) departments that are not always fully met. The literature reflects that although a significant proportion of older people have a decrease in functional independence and an increased need for services following discharge from A&E, social and functional assessment by A&E staff can be inadequate, as can the arrangement of follow-up community services. As part of a wider study into the organization of care for older people in A&E, a health visitor for older people was funded to work part-time in the A&E department of a large NHS Trust. The health visitor identified potential clients through reviewing the A&E documentation of patients aged 75 years or over discharged directly from A&E. Telephone calls or home visits were used to follow up those individuals deemed to be vulnerable by the health visitor. Interventions included health education, referral to other agencies and patient or family counselling. None of the clients followed up by the health visitor (n = 212) had been referred by A&E to a specialist in gerontology, which suggests that these clients would otherwise not have received the potential benefit of specialist intervention. The pilot study described here highlights a number of practical issues in relation to the health visitor post for older people in A&E, including the importance of dedicated office space and access to a telephone. Data collected during the study, plus the positive evaluation of the role by a small group of A&E staff confirm the claims made in other studies (e.g. Runciman et al, 1996) that health visitors for older people may be of value in meeting the post-discharge needs of these people.

Publication types

  • Case Reports
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't

MeSH terms

  • Accidental Falls
  • Activities of Daily Living
  • Aftercare
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Community Health Nursing / methods
  • Community Health Nursing / organization & administration*
  • Emergency Service, Hospital / organization & administration*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Assessment*
  • Humans
  • Nursing Audit*
  • Patient Discharge*
  • United Kingdom