Objective: To understand and develop a model about the meaning of coordination to consumers who experienced a transition from acute care to home care.
Study design: A qualitative, exploratory study using Grounded Theory. DATA SOURCES/ANALYSIS: Thirty-three consumers in the Calgary Regional Health Authority who had experienced the transition from an acute care hospital back into the community with home care support were interviewed. They were asked to describe their transition experience and what aspects of coordination were important to them. Interviews were recorded, transcribed, and analyzed using constant comparison. The coding and retrieval of information was facilitated by the computer software program Nud*ist.
Principal findings: The resulting model has four components: (1) the meaning of coordination to consumers; (2) aspects of health care system support that are important for coordination; (3) elements that prepared consumers to return home; and (4) the components of a successful transition experience. Consumers appeared to play a crucial role in spanning organizational boundaries by participating in the coordination of their own care.
Conclusions: Consumers must be included in health care decisions as recipients of services and major players in the transition processes related to their care. Health care providers need to ensure that consumers are prepared to carry out their coordination role and managers need to foster a culture that values the consumer "voice" in organizational processes.