For the most part, discharge from hospital is routine and uneventful. However, for a percentage of people, discharge from acute care requires careful planning to ensure continuity of care. This is particularly the case with older patients who have complex medical needs. This literature review reveals that the essential elements for discharge planning are: communication, coordination, education, patient participation and collaboration between medical personnel. Outcomes measures of successful discharge planning include patient satisfaction and quality of life. Smooth and efficient coordination of this process reduces stress and anxiety for the patient, family, nurse, doctor, hospital and community services.