The Transition from Hospital to Home Care

Mom has major surgery on Tuesday, and then is discharged and sent home on Friday. Though it may seem severe, it happens all the time. Procedures that once kept patients in the hospital for several days, now often involve only a one or two-night hospital stay. Regardless of the forces driving this trend, the end result is undeniable. People are being sent home from hospitals “quicker and sicker” than was the practice several years ago.

Families often face this dilemma; feeling inadequately prepared for the realities of their loved one’s transition from hospital to home. Most family members have full-time jobs and small children at home to tend to, which makes this even more difficult. To help in the planning process, here are a few post-hospital concerns that families need to be prepared to monitor:

Medication management.
Studies suggest that nearly 40% of patients over 65 suffer from medication errors after leaving the hospital. A simple med box prefilled with the proper doses can make a significant difference, but it is not always enough to ensure that the patient consistently remembers to take the right medications at the right time.
Nutrition.
Often the patient is not motivated to eat healthily throughout the day and may not have the energy to prepare adequate meals. Even if family and friends provide a nutritious supper, breakfast and lunch can easily get neglected.
Fall precautions.
Falls are a common cause of re-hospitalizations. Practical steps should be taken to minimize fall risks in the home.
Emotional.
Post-hospital days can be discouraging and even depressing. The patient will need social and emotional support to help her stay motivated and engaged in her recovery process.
Hygiene.
Simple tasks like dressing, grooming, bathing and toileting can be a daily challenge for someone who just had major surgery.
Activity.
Some patients may be inclined to do too much too soon, while others may not be motivated to get up and move around at all.
Household.
During the recovery process, the garbage will still need to be emptied, the dishes washed, the laundry cleaned, and so forth.
The hospital’s discharge planning department will likely be a valuable source of information on local Medicare companies and rehabilitation facilities. Often, however, the patient is not sick enough to justify admission to a rehab facility and not strong enough to thrive only on what Medicare visits can accomplish. Perhaps family members and trusted friends are available to rally around for several days, helping the patient navigate the many challenges of regaining her strength. That certainly is the ideal solution.
If family and friends are doing all they can practically do and the loved one still needs a bit more, either simply in time spent with her or in the level of skilled care that would be best for her – sometimes more is needed.
Shortened hospital stays are the new reality. With prior planning and perhaps some outside help, families can adjust to this trend and provide the needed help to give Mom or any loved one the best opportunities possible to thrive following a hospitalization. If you know someone who may benefit from private duty care, we invite you to call MAS Home Care today. We’re here to help.
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