Hospital discharge planning has a significant impact on the health outcome of patients. Improvements to the planning will correspondingly improve the health of the discharged senior. Maintaining the older adult’s health falls on the shoulders of the patient, family caregivers, and medical providers.
Who is involved in hospital discharge planning?
A successful transition from the hospital to the home requires the cooperation of multiple parties. A team approach between the doctor who releases the elderly patient, the social worker who plans the discharge, and the family caregivers facilitates a smooth move to the next level of care.
While planning the senior’s discharge can be handled by a social worker, other professionals may intercede. A nurse or case manager is also qualified to plan a hospital discharge. But for complicated health conditions, the expertise offered by a team offers more desirable results.
For example, the elderly patient will undergo an evaluation by a skilled medical professional. These personnel will hold a discussion with the senior or his representative. Included in this discussion will be the patient’s physical condition prior to and after the hospitalization.
Planning for home care or a move to another care facility will follow the discussion with the patient or family caregiver. The caregiver will be apprised of the type of care the senior will need. Families will learn whether or not the senior’s condition is expected to improve.
Caregiving training is also provided during the discharge planning phase, if necessary. Families will be given detailed information about the activities with which the senior is likely to need help. Medication instructions will be provided, as will be recommendations for the senior’s diet.
Professionals involved in discharge planning will suggest healthcare equipment to be used in the home, if home care is a feasible care option. Examples of equipment include a wheelchair, commode, or oxygen. When returning home, the home should ideally accommodate the equipment.
Elderly patients who use a wheelchair, for instance, will experience less struggle at home when doorways are widened and ramps are installed over stairs. A bedside commode is a convenient option for elderly persons who are unable to rush to the bathroom in the middle of the night.
Discharge planning professionals may even refer families to a home care agency. Professional caregivers are skilled in all nonmedical aspects of home care, from providing safe transportation to doctors’ offices to preparing meals in accordance with dietary restrictions and help with personal hygiene.
What is the importance of good discharge planning?
An effective discharge plan significantly reduces the chances of hospital readmission. At the same time, the plan will facilitate the patient’s recovery and ensure that medications are both correctly prescribed and taken. Family caregivers will also be adequately prepared to take over the senior’s care.
Unfortunately, hospital discharge planning in the US is less than ideal. Patients are being discharged from the hospital at a quicker and sicker rate, making effective post-hospitalization care critical. Hospitals are also not equipped with enough staff to oversee patients’ care after discharge.
Post-acute care may be the responsibility of hospitals in the three months after a patient’s discharge. However, during these post-discharge months, the hospital has limited control over the senior patient’s choices and progress. Hospitals are unable to fully monitor what happens outside their facilities.
Hospital readmission is costly for the hospitals. Almost a quarter of elderly patients who receive a hip replacement or knee replacement return to the hospital within three months. Hospitals can be penalized when they experience a large rate of readmissions.
Additionally, almost half of all senior patients have medication errors after a hospital discharge. Medication compliance is critical to health, forcing some hospitals to adopt computer-generated messages that increase patients’ understanding of why it is important to take medications on time.
In addition to healthcare apps, portals, and other forms of electronic communication between medical providers and patients, hospitals are testing the efficacy of new technologies: remote control pill bottles, implanted devices to track vital signs, and camera technology to take photos of wounds.
Proper discharge planning requires that family caregivers be adequately prepared. But oftentimes, hospital discharges are done in a hurry. Plus, families may have financial, time, and physical limitations that prevent them from providing the level of care the senior needs.
Certain forms of care can be complex. Family caregivers may need to learn special care techniques, such as changing wound dressings, transferring the senior to and from the bed without causing injury to either party, feeding tube care or catheter care.
Fortunately, family caregivers have plenty of support from home care agencies, like Assisting Hands Home Care. We are staffed with a team of compassionate elder care providers who support seniors with all the tasks of daily living in the comfort and familiarity of the home environment.
When your elderly loved one is discharged, you can rest assured that the care recipient will be supported and monitored continuously throughout the day and night. Post-hospitalization care, a care option that we provide, is an important part of facilitating a senior’s recovery.
Our quality after-surgery care includes the preparation of nutritious meals, which hasten the body’s ability to heal. If your loved one needs transfer assistance, our caregivers are trained to safely shift the senior. We offer transportation and perform light housekeeping to maintain a hygienic home.
Assisting Hands Home Care providers help elderly care recipients bathe, dress, groom, and use the toilet. We are excellent companions, building strong bonds with the seniors we serve and keeping loneliness and social isolation at bay. We are trained in CPR and First Aid and respond quickly to emergencies.
Improve the outcome of a hospital discharge by enlisting the support of Assisting Hands Home Care. We will conduct an in-home assessment and develop a customized care plan that meets the senior’s care needs. Our home care agency serves seniors in Fort Worth West, TX Call today to schedule a consult.