A program shown to improve resident discharge and cut readmissions works best when it is implemented gradually in skilled nursing facilities, according to a new study.

The Re-Engineered Discharge, or RED, program, originally designed for hospitals, has had recent successes in nursing home trials. In the current investigation, researchers compared outcomes following two types of program implementation: a single day of training and a course schedule spread over a few months. They found notable differences between the two.

Although both strategies helped to improve residents’ care quality after discharge, staff members who received the long-term training had greater buy-in and better program implementation than their peers who had all their training in one day. Long-term training also was linked to lower hospital readmission rates, reported lead author Lori L. Popejoy, Ph.D., RN., of the University of Missouri Sinclair School of Nursing.

The RED program is designed to improve (among other factors):

  • Identification of the primary family care provider when residents return home
  • Medication discharge overview
  • Assurances that home healthcare services are set up and caregivers will arrive at the appropriate times
  • Follow-up phone calls aimed at finding whether the discharge plan is being implemented as designed

“This program can hopefully be utilized to improve the discharge outcomes for more nursing home residents,” Popejoy said. “If we can keep people recovering at home and avoid sending them back to the hospital, the better-off they will be overall.”

The study was published in Clinical Nursing Research.