Background: Previous studies supporting discharged patients are hospital-based which admission criteria tend to include mainly those with complex needs and/or specific disease conditions. This study captured the service gap where these non-frail older patients might have no specific medical problem upon discharge but they might encounter residual health and social issues when returning home.
Methods: Discharged community-dwelling non-frail older adults from an emergency medical ward were recruited and randomized into either intervention (n = 37) or control (n = 38) group. The intervention group received a 12-week complex interventions that included structured assessment, health education, goal empowerment, and care coordination supported by a health-social team. The control group received usual discharge care and monthly social call. The primary outcome was health-related quality of life (HRQoL). Secondary outcomes included activities of daily living (ADL), the presence of depressive symptoms, and the use of health services. The outcomes were measured at pre-intervention (T1) and at three months post-intervention (T2). The independent t-test or the Mann-Whitney U test was used to analyze the group differences in HRQoL, ADL, and presence of depressive symptoms according to the normality of data.
Results: Analysis showed that the intervention group experienced a statistically significantly improvement in the mental component scale of quality of life (p = .036), activities of daily living (p = .005), and presence of depressive symptoms (p = .035) at T2 compared with at T1. No significant differences were found in the control group.
Conclusions: Supporting self-care is necessary to enable community-dwelling non-frail older adults to be independent to the fullest extent possible in the community. The promising results found in this pilot study suggested that the integration of the health-social partnership into transitional care practice is effective and can be sustained in the community. Future studies can draw on these findings and maximize the integrated care quality during the transition phase.
Trial registration: NCT04434742 (date: 17 June 2020, retrospectively registered).
Keywords: Community-dwelling older adults; Health-social partnership; Non-frail; Self-care.