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Being in control and striving for normalisation: A Norwegian pilot study on parents’ perceptions of hospital‐at‐home

In recent decades, there has been a shift from hospitalisation to home care throughout the Western world, even for children. Hospital‐at‐home for children is in a developmental phase and represents a new service model in Norway. The aim of this pilot study conducted in a Norwegian healthcare setting was to explore how parents with a sick child experienced early hospital discharge and further care at home. The qualitative data are drawn from nine interviews with parents with a child admitted to hospital‐at‐home. Transcripts of interviews were analysed using a method of qualitative content analysis. In the analysis, Antonovsky's salutogenic perspective on how people cope in demanding life situations was applied. The results show that the parents experienced hospital‐at‐home as providing a calmer, more predictable family life compared to hospitalisation. They argued that good information and training in medical procedures prior to hospital discharge made hospital‐at‐home easier to master. The participants pointed out the importance of the professionals’ competence and their ability to interact with the child and the parent. The certitude that they could return to the hospital at any time made them feel safe and in control. The parents associated hospital‐at‐home with a kind of normalisation of their family life. They had a prominent need for normalisation, and this was probably a motivation for agreeing to the hospital‐at‐home arrangement. The findings indicate that hospital‐at‐home for children is a good solution if the parents are well prepared and feel in control. In addition, certain structural conditions must be in place before this type of health care is established; there must be a certain volume of patients and the distance to the hospital must be clearly limited. Norwegian policymakers should initiate more pilot testing of hospital‐at‐home for children. Users and clinicians should be involved in establishing and evaluating these services.

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Scandinavian Journal of Caring Sciences
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