Occupational Therapist's Role In Discharge Planning April 08 2016

OT-Role In Discharge Planning




The goal of discharge planning is to address the needs of the patient and minimize the risks associated with hospital discharge. For instance a few goals would be:

  • Reduce length of hospital admission
  • Prepare a person for discharge home
  • Prevent hospital re-admission following discharge

Occupational Therapist are one member of a team that looks at the patients’ needs and wants to help the patient decrease dependence on others and to promote a safe transition home. For example, in an acute hospital occupational therapists help older adults to re-develop functional ability and skills required for safe discharge. 

Role of Occupational Therapy During Discharge Planning

Occupational Therapist will collaborate with patients to set discharge goals. These goals focus on the patient’ future and how creating these goals will help with increasing their motivations, performance, and persistence to achieve discharge goals. When developing these goals for older adults during acute discharge there are two factors that contribute to successful goal setting: clear communication and collaboration between patient and therapist.

Communication contributes to:

  • Reduced re-admission & increased quality of life to patients
  • Aligning healthcare to client-centered healthcare
  • Realistic goals to create feeling of success and increase motivation for patient’s

Collaboration contributes to:

  • Decrease anxiety due to patient’s having more control
  • Create a sense of empowerment
  • Improve satisfaction with care
  • Promote active involvement in therapy

Environmental barriers could hinder the goal setting process, this high pressure, fast paced discharge environment could prevent therapists from comprehensively understanding the patient and incorrectly identify goals priorities.

Most goal setting for acute older adults involves set up personal and instrumental ADL goals, research has found that an increase in older adults have been focusing on mobility goals. 

 Discharge planning can aid older adults by addressing common problems they could experience following discharge home.

For example:

  • Difficulty returning to pre-admission occupations
  • Concerns of caregiver burden
  • Difficulty readjusting to change
  • Problems with home
  • Community services
  • Issues coordinator care between different care providers
  • Problems understanding the plan for follow-up care
  • Medication management
  • Loss of Independence of ADL's 

Benefits of Discharge Planning

A review done by Shepperd found discharge planning for older adults was related to

  • Decreased length of hospital admission
  • Reduced re-admission rates in the 3 months following discharge
  • Reduce hospital bed blockages
  • Improve patient flow through the hospital system
  • Improve mental health
  • Lower anxiety during discharge

With the older adult population increasing, the discharge process will need to have the necessary recommendations and goals vital to achieve positive outcomes for older adults transiting home. With the increasing aging population and more older adults wanting to "Age at Home" prescribing devices will help with not only increasing patient's confidence, but also helping older adults stay independent longer. 


Waller, Paige. "Occupational Therapy Goals during Acute Discharge for Older Adults." . University of Sydney, 18 July 2015. Web. 28 Mar. 2016. <http://ses.library.usyd.edu.au/bitstream/2123/14208/1/Waller_Paige_Thesis_Submission_e-scholarship.pdf>