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Carer engagement in the hospital care of older people: an integrative literature review

There is a lack of definitions, evidence and guidance about carer engagement in hospitals. In this study, researchers carried out an integrative literature review to assess the components of carer engagement for older people’s hospital care.

Post-screening, a thematic analysis was applied to 103 articles. The synthesised findings form six distinct components of carer engagement:

Patient caregiving, in which patients are supported by carers in their treatment and care.

Information sharing, in which patients are supported by carers when communicating information with staff.

Shared decision making, in which patients are supported by carers to understand or make decisions about their treatment or care.

Carer support and education.

Carer feedback, which relates to giving feedback to staff about patient care or their experience of caring.

Patient care transitions, which describe situations where carers support patients in their journeys of care.

The six themes are presented in an integrated model of carer engagement, which the authors argue establishes carer engagement as a distinct element of hospital practice with its own theory and evidence base, rather than an extension of patient involvement.

The model could encourage staff to help hospitals adopt a more consistent and comprehensive approach to carer engagement, in which families are no longer regarded as the only providers of informal care. It may also help staff and hospitals to develop strategies, staff training and resources that support carers.

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