Transferring from an acute hospital and settling into a subacute facility: the experience of patients with dementia

Int J Older People Nurs. 2012 Mar;7(1):57-64. doi: 10.1111/j.1748-3743.2011.00282.x. Epub 2011 Jun 27.


Background: In a Melbourne metropolitan health network, patients with dementia can have difficulty settling into a subacute rehabilitation facility after transfer from the acute hospital.

Aims and objectives: To understand how older patients with mild to moderate dementia experienced the transfer from acute to subacute care and settling-in period.

Design: A descriptive design was used. Eight patients with mild to moderate dementia were recruited, one to 5 days after transfer.

Method: A qualitative method using in-depth interviews was used. The data were analysed using content analysis.

Results: Four main themes were identified: 'Settling into a new environment', 'staff attitudes to people with dementia', 'loss of control' and 'family support'.

Conclusions: Person-centred care that comes from the perspective of respect for the individual transcends all these issues. People with dementia require more support to settle after transfer. Family involvement can assist in facilitating a smooth transition.

Implications for practice: Nurses who understand the specific needs of patients with dementia can develop ways of working with patients to ensure person-centred care. More conversations with people with dementia are needed to investigate how this can be achieved. Orientation procedures should ensure that support for people with dementia is optimized during the settling-in phase.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological*
  • Aged
  • Aged, 80 and over
  • Anxiety / nursing
  • Anxiety / psychology
  • Attitude of Health Personnel
  • Confusion / nursing
  • Confusion / psychology
  • Dementia / nursing*
  • Dementia / psychology*
  • Female
  • Geriatric Nursing / methods
  • Hospitals
  • Humans
  • Inpatients / psychology*
  • Male
  • Nursing Staff / psychology
  • Patient Transfer*
  • Patient-Centered Care / methods
  • Rehabilitation Centers*
  • Rehabilitation Nursing / methods
  • Social Support