The discharge planning role of hospital social workers has become increasingly important in services to elderly people. This article examines three issues: (1) the extent to which elderly people most in need receive social work services, (2) the extent to which the discharge planning performed is a professional task, and (3) the effectiveness of discharge planning for those who return to their homes after hospitalization. The study focused on 1, 100 elderly patients from five Baltimore hospitals. Data were gathered from their social workers, from the patients themselves (by phone after discharge), and from medical records. Results show that only a minority of elderly patients who return to the community after hospitalization receive social work services while in the hospital but that those who do are likely to have posthospital needs. In most cases, the discharge planning uses professional skills, but 28 percent of cases are fairly routine. Finally, social work services were effective in reducing the level of unmet needs in the areas of nursing, medication, and physical therapy.
ASJC Scopus subject areas
- Health(social science)