What are the needs of frail older patients in the emergency department? A qualitative study

Authors Dorien Venema, Sigrid C.J.M. Vervoort, Janneke M. de Man-van Ginkel, Nienke Bleijenberg, Lisette Schoonhoven, Wietske H.W. Ham
Published in International Emergency Nursing
Publication date 2023
Research groups Proactive care for older people living at home
Type Article


Background: There is an increase in the number of frail elderly patients presenting to the emergency department. Diagnosis and treatment for this patient group is challenging due to multimorbidity, a-typical presentation and polypharmacy and requires specialised knowledge and competencies from healthcare professionals. We aim to explore the needs and preferences regarding emergency care in frail older patients based on their experiences with received care during Emergency Department admission. Method: A qualitative study design was used, and semi-structured interviews were conducted after discharge with twelve frail older patients admitted to emergency departments in the Netherlands. Data collection and analysis were performed iteratively, and data were thematically analysed. Results: The analysis enfolded the following themes; feeling disrupted, expecting to be cared for, suppressing their needs and wanting to be seen. These themes indicated a need for situational awareness by healthcare professionals when taking care of the participants and were influenced by the participants' life experiences. Conclusion: Frail older patients feel disrupted when admitted to the emergency department. Because of this, they expect to be cared for, lessen their own needs and want to be seen as human beings. The impact of the admission is influenced by the extent to which healthcare professionals show situational awareness.

On this publication contributed

  • Nienke Bleijenberg PhD | Professor | Research group Chronic Diseases
    Nienke Bleijenberg
    • Professor
    • Research group: Proactive care for older people living at home
  • Wietske H.W. Ham
    • Professor
    • Research group: Proactive care for older people living at home

Language English
Published in International Emergency Nursing
Key words admission, emergency department, experiences, frail older patient, needs, qualitative research
Digital Object Identifier 10.1016/j.ienj.2023.101263

Proactive care for older people living at home