Many older patients develop health conditions that require hospitalization. Once recovered and ready for discharge from the hospital, these patients often have several more medications and treatments added to the ones they had when they first entered the hospital. Some older patients still need to have daily care after leaving the hospital, which makes it extremely important for family members and caregivers to be prepared and able to provide a smooth transition from hospital to home.
Hospital Discharge Planning
Discharge planning is a crucial step to ensure your loved one receives the proper care after they leave the hospital environment. Medicare defines hospital discharge planning as “a process used to decide what a patient needs for a smooth move from one level of care to another.” This move can include a brief stay at a nursing home, another family member’s home or the patient may be able to return directly to their own home. In any case, discharge planning is needed to develop a plan of action that best suits the patient and their family members. Each treatment option will be evaluated and discussed by the medical team, the patient and their family members. Together, they will decide what is best for the patient.
When an elderly family member is admitted to the hospital, the hospital discharge planner will generally make contact with the family. It is the hospital’s job to make sure your loved one is discharged into a safe and therapeutic environment. For this reason, it is very important to the hospital that they discuss post-care with you and your loved one. The discharge planner can be a nurse, a social worker or they may be identified by different title. No matter what the job title, their goals are the same. They gather information about the patient, their condition, treatment goals, home situation and family involvement, then make recommendations for post-hospitalization care.
Although the hospital staff and physicians are there to provide your loved one with top-notch medical care, no one knows your relative better than you and your family members. You may notice that something is wrong with your loved one that the medical staff does not recognize. It is a vital part of your loved ones treatment to openly communicate with the hospital staff during the discharge planning process. Every patient has the right to receive quality medical care. Sometimes a patient is simply not ready to be discharged and family members can challenge the timing of release. The New England Journal of Medicine reported that in 2009, one out of every five Medicare patients ended up returning to the hospital within 30 days of their discharge.