After hours spent sitting by a hospital bed or marking a path through the hallways from pacing, it’s finally time to bring your loved one home from the hospital.
Unfortunately, worries and stress rarely stop once your loved one is released. Hospital visits for an illness, injury, or surgery often mark the beginning of a family caregiver’s journey. And it can be difficult. Nearly one in five Medicare patients are re-hospitalized within 30 days of being discharged and more than a third are readmitted within three months.
In order to make the transition from hospital to home or another care facility as smooth as possible, it is important for family caregivers to make a plan for what’s next.
In order to make the transition from hospital to home or another care facility as smooth as possible, it is important for family caregivers to make a plan for what’s next. Here are some best practices to keep in mind when advocating for a loved one who is being discharged from the hospital. These tips were recommended by the Family Caregiver Alliance in partnership with the United Hospital Fund during a recent webinar
- Know your rights. Under the CARE Act, approved in most states, you have the right to know the admission status and test results for your loved one, and receive advance notice of discharge time. Appointed family caregivers should also be given notice and education about the kinds of tasks they will need to perform. Do not be afraid to be an advocate if you are unclear about what is happening.
- Think through your transition. Some questions to ask yourself: How available are you to care for your loved one? Do you or does someone in your home have the right training to, if necessary, administer medication, transfer or move the person needing care, and help with daily tasks such as bathing and cooking. Are you able to hire any in-home help?
- Make sure your paper work is in order. Files should include physical copies of advanced directives, power of attorney, insurance information, and contact information and schedules for all paid or unpaid caregivers. Make sure that medication lists and medical records are cross referenced with past records.
- Keep other caregivers in the loop. Schedule follow up appointments with primary care doctor. Schedule intake appointments with home health care or facility orientations.
- Shop around for a quality care facility. If your loved one needs to transition to a nursing home or rehab hospital, take time to find a quality facility. Can it meet the medical and social needs of your loved one? Is the location accessible for the family caregiver?
- Breathe. You are not alone in caring for your loved one. Build a support of family and friends to help. If you have concerns, remember you can contact a geriatric care manager, patient advocate or patient navigator, or Long Term Care Ombudsman.
Rebecca Howell is a student at the University of Maryland, College Park studying medical history. She is a regular contributor to MemoryWell News for the Ages.