Residents feeling rushed, unprepared to make SNF decision

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Older adults often feel rushed and unprepared when deciding on a skilled nursing facility to enter after hospitalization, a new study finds.

The majority of participants found it to be a negative experience. They commonly complained of having little time to choose, hospital discharge planners handing out a list of just facility names and addresses. and healthcare professionals involved in their care not giving much guidance. The study was released last week by noted researchers at Brown University.

Investigators suggest healthcare workers become more involved in the SNF selection process by providing additional information to patients. Although the researchers believe the lack of guidance could be from overinterpretation of “patient choice” statutes, it is important for healthcare workers and specifically discharge planners to involve patients in the decision-making process and give them complete information on their options.

Study participants said the negative factors in the hospital combined with the often unexpected need to enter a facility created an overall unfavorable admission experience. Most (79.6%) were admitted to the hospital because of an emergency.

The majority of study participants decided on their facility the day before or the day of being discharged from the hospital. The rushed decision meant many of the patients decided on their facility because of things like location instead of quality; many said they would have traveled farther for better quality.

“This was not surprising given that the address was often the only information about the SNF that they were given,” wrote researchers. “Those who did not have prior experience and those less able to advocate for themselves often stated that location was the most important deciding factor.”

Researchers conducted interviews with 98 older adults who were recently admitted to a SNF. They talked about choosing a facility, who helped them decide, their opinion on the process and the considerations that went into the decision. The research was published on July 6 in the Journal of the American Geriatrics Society.