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Telling stories from everyday practice, an opportunity to see a bigger picture: a participatory action research project about developing discharge planning

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In spite of laws, rules and routines, findings from Swedish as well as international research show that discharge planning is not a simple matter. There is considerable knowledge about discharge planning, but the quality of the actual process in practice remains poor. With this in mind, a research and developmental health and social care network decided to use participation action research to explore the discharge planning situation in order to generate new ideas for development. This paper reports on the research process and the findings about our enhanced understanding about the discharge planning situation. Story dialogue method was used. The method is based on stories from everyday practice. The stories are used as ‘triggers’ to ask probing questions in a dialogical and structured form. Local theory is developed to help the participants to find solutions for action in the practice. Our findings were that the discharge planning situation could be seen as a system including three interconnected areas: patient participation, practitioners’ competence and organizational support. To reach good quality in discharge planning, all these three issues need to be developed, but not only as routines and forms. Rather, when developing a discharge planning situation, a system where relational aspects such as confidence and continuity are essential and thus needs to be considered. To achieve a change, the core problem needs to be clarified. When the issue is complex, the solution needs to consider the bigger picture and not just the parts. Telling stories from everyday practice, and to systematically reflect and analyse those in interprofessional groups can create opportunities for enhanced understanding, as well as be a vehicle for future change of practice.
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Keywords: discharge planning; participatory action research; reflection; story dialogue method

Document Type: Research Article

Affiliations: School of Health and Society, Kristianstad University College, Kristianstad, Sweden

Publication date: November 1, 2009

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