Supporting older people following out of hours discharge from the Emergency Department: An integrative review of the literature

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BACKGROUND: For many older people the emergency department (ED) is an important but sometimes difficult step in their healthcare journey. They often attend the ED with co and multi morbidities. Discharge home at evenings and weekends when post-discharge support services are limited can result in a delay or failure to follow through on their discharge plan leading to adverse health outcomes and in some cases, readmission to ED.

OBJECTIVE: The aim of this integrative review was to identify and appraise the support available to older people following discharge from the ED out of hours (OOH).

METHODS: For this review, out of hours referred to those times after 17.30 until 08.00 a.m. on Mondays to Fridays, all hours on weekends and public holidays. Whittemore and Knafl's (Journal of Advanced Nursing, 2005;52:546), framework was used to guide all stages of the review process. Articles were retrieved following a rigorous search of published works using various databases, the grey literature and hand search of the reference lists of the studies included.

RESULTS: In total 31 articles were included in the review. These comprised systematic reviews, randomised control studies, cohort studies and surveys. Main themes identified included processes that enable support, support provision by health and social care professionals and telephone follow-up. Results identified a significant dearth of out of hours discharge research and a strong recommendation for more concise and thorough research in this important area of care transition.

CONCLUSION: Older person discharge home from the ED presents an associated risk as previous research has identified frequent readmission and periods of ill health and dependency. Out of hours discharge can be even more problematic when it may be difficult to arrange support services and ensure continuity of care. Further work in this area is required, taking cognisance of the findings and recommendations identified in this review.

Original languageEnglish
Article numbere12529
Number of pages19
JournalInternational Journal of Older People Nursing
Issue number3
Early online date3 Mar 2023
Publication statusPublished (in print/issue) - 1 May 2023

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2023 The Authors. International Journal of Older People Nursing published by John Wiley & Sons Ltd.


  • Ageing
  • Older person
  • discharge
  • Emergency Department
  • Out of hours
  • Home
  • out of hours
  • ageing
  • older person
  • supports
  • emergency department
  • home


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