Degree Name

Master of Science (Hons.)


Department of Public Health and Nutrition


This study addressed the issue of health education for elderly people following discharge from hospital to home. The research method was qualitative, and used the grounded theory approach. Data was collected using participant-observation and informal open-ended interviews. Elderly people, their carers, and health professionals were interviewed. The case studies were recruited from elderly people who had recently been discharged from hospital, and referred to the care of community health nurses in a specific geographical area. No distinction was made regarding, gender, diagnosis, or the level of care required on discharge. The specific issues addressed in this study were how the education needs of the elderly were determined, and how that health teaching was undertaken. More importantly, also addressed was the issue of how that health teaching was perceived by the elderly themselves. The most powerful issue that emerged from the elderly was how they viewed themselves. Their definition of elderly had little to do with chronological age, rather they identified "old" as dependent. The perceived ability of the elderly to leam was seen as central to the way health professionals related personally to the elderly and to how information was subsequently given to them. There is a need to recognize the majority of elderly people as active, willing, and able participants in health promotion activities. Hospital personnel generally lacked knowledge of the home environment and the needs of the elderly once they left the hospital milieu. Involvement of the carers in education about post hospitalization care was also found to be inadequate in most cases. A further difficulty was the breakdown in lines of communication between the hospital and community health professionals.