Fall. Hospital. Rehab. Repeat. Sound familiar? Fifteen percent of older adults who spent time in a hospital will be readmitted within a month of their discharge—and the percentage is growing. Keeping seniors safe at home, particularly during a pandemic, is of the utmost importance to everyone involved.
Researchers have found that Social Determinants of Health (SDOH) have a greater influence on health outcomes than genetics or clinical care. More than 90% of hospital readmissions can be traced to non-clinical factors such as having insufficient support for day-to-day functional needs after a patient is discharged to home.
What can you do to reduce the chance of readmission?
- Be with your loved one when they receive discharge instructions. Two sets of ears are always better than one. Listen to the instructions, take notes, and ask questions to make sure you understand what needs to be done to help your loved one recover at home.
- Ask for instructions in writing. Request a copy of discharge instructions so there’s no doubt or confusion about to the steps you need to take when your loved one gets home.
- Follow the instructions. This is often easier said than done. Remind your loved one that their healthcare team has their best interests at heart. Help them take their medications as prescribed, complete the recommended rehab exercises, and get plenty of rest.
- Get clarification on conflicting advice. There may be good reasons why the advice differs, so don’t try to sort it out on your own. Bring it to the healthcare provider’s attention and let them advise you.
- Arrange necessary family or community supports before you take your loved one home. If you have any concerns about your loved one’s ability to live safely and independently at home, ask the hospital’s discharge planner or social worker to recommend community services that can help.
- Understand the risk factors for readmission. What are the likely contributing factors that could land your loved one back in the hospital? Pay attention to the risks that are specific to your loved one’s health condition and take precautions to minimize those risks. For example, if your loved one fell and broke her hip, making sure that her home is obstacle free will help prevent falls.
- Know who to call if you have questions. Confirm the names, positions, and phone numbers of the healthcare professionals you should call if questions come up about your loved one’s care. You’re likely to have questions, so find out now where to get your answers.
- When in doubt, call. Worried about bugging your loved one’s doctor? Don’t. If you’re unsure about something, it’s better to place a quick phone call to the doctor’s office than to exacerbate a potential risk to your relative’s health.
- Attend your appointments. Book your loved one’s return appointments as soon as possible. If you don’t, your loved one may end up missing critical re-examinations.
- Don’t forget to look after yourself. If you find time to meet your own needs for care, you’ll be better able to support your loved one.
One of the easiest ways to reduce the chance of readmission is to work with an Elder Care Coordinator in a Life Care Planning Law Firm. These trained professionals know exactly what to do to help your loved one stay safe and sound at home. Find a Life Care Planning Law Firm near you.