Challenges and solutions for discharge support of elderly people in the acute care ward: Interviews with community-based integrated care supporters and patients in Tokyo, Japan

Glob Health Med. 2024 Feb 29;6(1):83-89. doi: 10.35772/ghm.2023.01016.


Japan, which has become the country with the longest-living people in the world due to rapid population aging, has an insurer function for each local government and socialized long-term care under a public system. Japan aims to build a Community-based Integrated Care System (CICS) for each municipality with the goal of integrating medical care and long-term care. However, despite the policy and management studies, the challenges and solutions for discharge support by the parties have not yet been clarified. This study aimed to obtain suggestions on challenges and solutions for discharge support in the acute care wards for the elderly for community-based integrated care support providers and patients in Kita Ward, Tokyo. Semi-structured interviews were conducted, and the obtained data were a priori analyzed by a deductive thematic analysis using a conceptual framework for integrated care based on the integrative functions of primary care. The challenges were found to include: i) disparity between medical and lifestyle perspectives, ii) competencies of medical and care workers at homes, iii) discharge support challenges related to the elderly themselves, iv) nursing care dependent on family; and v) the impact of payment of medical service in the health insurance system and payment of long-term care services. The solution that can be applied at the local government level was community connection. While aiming to build a CICS for each local government, there was a contradiction in that the challenges and solutions required examination at the national and prefectural levels.

Keywords: community-based integrated care in Japan; discharge support; elderly people; thematic analysis.