Activities of daily living – health, hospital, home

Ms Christy Dorward1, Ms Jolene May1

1Tasmanian Health Service, Hobart, Australia

Background:  Activities of daily living (ADL’s) are essential to maintaining health and wellbeing and participating in a wide range of meaningful activities.

Aim: The aim of the review was to understand how ADL needs affect a person’s capacity to continue living at home and their likelihood of an acute hospital admission.

Method:  A systematic search and scoping review of the literature specific to activities of daily living, hospitalisation and readmission.

Results: The scoping review yielded evidence that the older person with ADL’s difficulties experienced poorer health, higher likelihood of presentation to hospital emergency departments, and hospital admissions.  Acute admissions, injury, and illness for the older person were associated with a decline in functional status which further increases their risk of admission and institutionalisation.  Evidence supports a multidisciplinary approach to addressing activities of daily living to enable the older person to remain living in their home and to prevent ADL related admissions.

Conclusion: Targeting ADL’s in the community and throughout the admission and discharge process will reduce the risk of functional decline, admissions and poor health outcomes.


Christy Dorward is the Discipline Lead Occupational Therapy for Tasmanian Health Service, Southern Region.  She has a Master of Health Service Management and has worked in Australia, the United Kingdom and United States of America in community and hospital settings.

Jolene May is the Clinical Lead in Quality and Redesign for occupational therapy in the Tasmanian Health Service, Southern Region.  She has completed the Quality Improvement Lead Training Program through the ACHS Improvement Academy and is studying the Master of Health & Human.  She has worked in Australia and the United Kingdom including rehabilitation in community, public and private settings.

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