Caregiver speaking to senior

Two new reports add to a growing body of evidence that the transition from hospital to skilled nursing facility is less than ideal.

The United Hospital Fund in New York released its analyses last week, which are based on a year-long study of post-hospital care. Based on interviews with patients and providers, authors from the New York-based nonprofit noted that individuals often felt they were rushed, with little say in which facility they ended up. Patients and their families want to know more upfront about what to expect during their SNF stay, but it’s rare that they get that info, Kristina Ramos-Callan, a UHF program manager, told McKnight’s.

“Families typically report that the transition is rushed, and that there are pieces of information missing,” said Ramos-Callan, who coauthored The Illusion of Choice: Why Decisions About Post-Acute Care Are Difficult for Patients and Family Caregivers. “There’ a serious knowledge gap in what families are told and what they’re able to find out on their own. Because of the perception of limitations around what hospitals staff can say to families and patients about the next care setting, patients don’t get a lot of information and they’re oftentimes left to their own devices.”

The 22-page report details “vivid stories” on the limited choices seniors face, along with the perceived failure by hospital staffers to prepare patients for a SNF.

A second report, meanwhile, details some of the “daunting barriers” to transition from hospital to post-acute care. Titled “Health Care Provider Perspectives on Discharge Planning,” the report is based on conversations with leaders and frontline staff at eight hospitals and five New York-area nursing homes.

Authors noted that hospitals’ efforts to smooth transitions are often hampered by pressures to increase efficiency, constraints from insurance providers, authorization delays, and regulations that limit assistance they can provide to patients. Location and access to transportation were often critical factors in the decision.

“Patients rarely got their first choice in terms of their skilled nursing facility,” author Joan Guzik, director of quality improvement for UHF’s Quality Institute, told McKnight’s.

These were the second and third installments in a four-part series from the United Hospital Fund, a nonprofit that analyzes public policy to try and inform lawmakers. The fourth and final installment will be released in February and focus on innovations to improve post-acute transitions.