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J Am Med Dir Assoc ; 22(3): 682-688, 2021 03.
Article in English | MEDLINE | ID: covidwho-761756

ABSTRACT

OBJECTIVE: This study aimed to further knowledge of older Veterans' experiences with transitioning to the community from Veterans Affairs nursing homes (Community Living Centers or CLCs) with emphasis on social functioning. DESIGN: A qualitative study design was used in addition to administration of standardized depression and mental status screens. SETTING AND PARTICIPANTS: Veterans (n = 18) and caregivers (n = 14) were purposively sampled and recruited from 2 rural CLCs in Upstate New York. METHODS: Semistructured interviews were completed with Veterans in the CLC prior to discharge (to explore experiences during the CLC stay and expectations regarding discharge and returning home) and in the home 2-4 weeks postdischarge (to explore daily routines and perceptions of overall health, mental health, and social functioning). Caregivers participated in 1 interview, completed postdischarge. The 9-item Patient Health Questionnaire and the Brief Interview for Mental Status were administered postdischarge. RESULTS: Thematic analysis of verbatim transcriptions revealed 3 inter-related themes: (1) Veterans may experience improved social connectedness in CLCs by nature of the unique care environment (predominantly male, shared military experience); (2) Experiences of social engagement and connectedness varied after discharge and could be discordant with Veterans' expectations for recovery prior to discharge; and (3) Veterans may or may not describe themselves as "lonely" after discharge, when physically isolated. Veterans lacked moderate to severe cognitive impairment (Brief Interview for Mental Status: range = 14-15); however, they reported a wide range in depressive symptom severity postdischarge (9-item Patient Health Questionnaire: mean = 4.9, SD = 6.1, median/mode = 3, range = 0-23). CONCLUSIONS AND IMPLICATIONS: This study identified a potential for increased social isolation and disengagement after discharge from Veterans Affairs nursing homes. Nursing homes should integrate social functioning assessment for their residents, while extending care planning and transitional care to address patient-centered social functioning goals.


Subject(s)
Veterans , Aftercare , Humans , Male , New York , Nursing Homes , Patient Discharge , Patient Transfer , United States , United States Department of Veterans Affairs
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