Aim. This paper is a report of a study to examine the relationship between health-related admission factors and post-hospital physical function at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months in older adult nursing facility residents.
Background. Physical functional decline is a significant health problem for older adults and has far-reaching effects. In particular, the immediate post-hospital period is a high-risk time, because shortened hospital stays make it likely that older patients are discharged in a state of incomplete recovery.
Method. Data spanning from July 2002 to June 2005 were extracted from a comprehensive assessment tool, the Minimum Data Set, for 38,591 beneficiaries of a federal health insurance programme covering older adults in the Midwestern region of the United States of America. We investigated relationships between admission factors and post-hospital physical function at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months. The admission factors were health-related variables assessed at the time of skilled nursing facility admission from an acute care hospital.
Findings. The most important admission factors related to post-hospital physical function at 3, 6, 9 and 12 months were baseline physical function, urinary incontinence and pressure ulcer. Cognitive impairment at admission demonstrated a stronger relationship with poor physical function as resident length of stay increased.
Conclusion. Nurses in skilled nursing facilities should screen post-hospital older adults for risk of physical functional decline at admission using identified admission factors. For continuous nursing care, older adults need to be assessed at least once a month during the first 3 months after hospital discharge.