Structured follow-up of frail home-dwelling older people in primary health care: is there a special need, and could a checklist be of any benefit? A qualitative study of experiences from registered nurses and their leaders

J Multidiscip Healthc. 2019 Aug 21;12:675-690. doi: 10.2147/JMDH.S212283. eCollection 2019.


Aim: To identify experiences and opinions about the need for a structured follow-up and to identify potential benefits and barriers to the use of a checklist (Sub Acute Functional decline in the Older people [SAFE]) when caring for frail home-dwelling older people.

Background: The complexity of older peoples' health situation requires more coordinated health care across health care levels and a better structured follow-up than is currently being offered, especially in the transitional phase between hospital discharge and primary care, but also in more stable phases at home.

Design: This was a qualitative study using focus group interviews.

Methods: Data were collected during six focus group interviews in three districts in a municipality. Nineteen registered nurses (RNs) and seventeen leaders responsible for the follow-up of frail home-dwelling older people participated. Participants were representatives of the RNs in homecare and their leaders.

Results: Our results highlight that although most RNs and their leaders saw a number of significant benefits to conducting a structured assessment and follow-up of frail older people home care recipients, a number of barriers made this difficult to realize on a daily basis.

Conclusion: There is no common perception that a structured follow-up of frail home-dwelling older people in primary health care is an important and contributing factor to better quality of health care. Despite this, most RNs and leaders found that the use of a structured checklist such as SAFE was a benefit to achieving a structured follow-up of the frail older people. We identified several factors of importance to whether a structured follow-up with a checklist is conducted in home care.

Keywords: community health services; frail elderly; functional decline; geriatric assessment; home care; methods; multimorbidity; polypharmacy.