Date of Conferral







Cynthia Fletcher


Heart failure patients account for 27% of readmissions within 30 days of discharge, which is an indicator of poor quality of care. Additionally, heart failure patients report that they do not receive adequate discharge planning, pointing to a need for improved discharge planning and practitioner follow-up. As the severity of heart failure increases, caregivers may be the key to decreasing readmissions. The purpose of this qualitative, hermeneutic phenomenological study was to explore the lived experiences and challenges faced by caregivers of heart failure patients ages 65 and over readmitted within 30 days of discharge. The transitional care model guided the understanding of the caregivers’ experiences during the patient transition from hospital to home. Purposeful sampling was used to recruit participants caring for a heart failure patient. Eight face-to-face and telephone interviews were conducted using an interview guide with open-ended questions. The data analysis consisted of transcribing the interviews verbatim and hand coding. Four process themes were identified: being vigilant, seeking support, receiving support, and experiencing challenges. Caregivers are attentive to needs of the heart failure patient, they look to others for support, and experience many challenges. The results of this study may provide a better understanding for health care providers about the challenges experienced by caregivers and help guide the development of programs with the potential to prevent readmission.