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Returning Home - From Hospital to Home


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You just experienced a hospital stay and maybe a stay in a rehabilitation center. Maybe you fell and fractured a hip, or your COPD flared up. Maybe your stay was related to your diabetes or Parkinson's, or maybe you took a tumble heading to the bathroom in the middle of the night. Maybe it was a shoulder repair or knee replacement. There are any number of sudden reasons you found yourself spending your days staring at a television screen near the ceiling of the same sparely furnished room with maybe twice daily breaks for physical therapy. Regardless of the "why" nearly two weeks have gone by and you're ready to go home. Your care team has given you the "go ahead" and recommended you have help in your home and now you have another "why" and this time it comes with a "how."

Well, regarding your new "why" of "why do I need assistance if I'm well enough to go home," medical care facilities and providers walk a narrow line every day between providing the best care for their patients while balancing the requirements of the insurance providers footing the bill. Insurance rules vary between insurers and they can be as complicated as the IRS tax code.

To summarize the important points, hospitals and health care facilities want you to experience the best outcome possible from your treatment, and they'll keep you in the building as long as necessary to achieve it. But they also want to get you home as soon as possible.

For one thing, hospital acquired infections and other adverse conditions can be a threat to recuperation. Notable health care organizations such as Johns Hopkins, among others, have pioneered actual in home hospital care for these very reasons. You may also have noticed signs in your facility asking visitors to be quiet. It seems the environment itself can promote healing, and what more comfortable environment than your own home?

But there are other reasons for health care facilities to return you to your home. Many insurers, Medicare included, have limits on the number of days of inpatient hospital stays they will cover in full for your health care. Others may have limits based on your condition, and this encourages health care facilities to get you well and get you on your way.

This is often a "rock and a hard place" situation for health care providers. They're told to get your well and get you on your way as soon as they can. But they're also told if you end up back in the hospital within 30 days the insurer won't be happy with them, and it may even decrease the amount the insurer pays them for your stay. So how does a health care provider give you with the best care, prevent extra days in the hospital, and keep you from coming back within the month? They recommend help at home. That's their "why."

So what about your "why?" Why would you benefit from assistance at home and how would it keep you on the track to recovery? I'm glad you asked. Having a caregiver in your home can keep you on track with your medications. With a thousand things going through your mind and transitioning from available help 24 hours per day in a health care facility to figuring out how to do everything you used to take for granted, keeping up with your new prescriptions can fall to the back burner. That puts your health at risk

Speaking of falling and burners, who is preparing meals and are you able to maneuver around the kitchen to prepare a meal yourself, or drive yourself to the store for groceries? Are you eating a diet that advised by your care team to keep your recovery on track? Has your risk of falling increased since your hospitalization and do you have restricted movements of your limbs? If you're knee has been replaced, how are you going to get in and out of the tub or shower? If your arm is in a sling, how will you open a jar of spaghetti sauce, or even pull the film from the top of a frozen dinner? How will you put on a shirt by yourself, wash and fold laundry and clean yourself up after using the bathroom?

Even simple tasks can be challenging during recuperation and increase the risk of injury and a subsequent hospitalization. This can start the whole process over from the beginning. I haven't meant anyone yet who was excited about that prospect.

That brings us to "how." How do you find this help, even temporarily, while you recover? It starts with a phone call, then a consultation and a home safety assessment. From there a personal care plan is written to keep you on track with the care plan from your health care provider to keep you out of the hospital, in your home, and on the road to recovery.

This plan may include points such as removing throw rugs from the hallway to prevent falls, moving a coffee table to have enough room for a walker or wheel chair, and installing grab bars in the bathroom. It may also include tracking medication reminders, meal preparation, scheduling and transporting to follow-up appointments, enlisting the services of a home health care agency to provide medical care and supervision in your home, and encouraging exercise including your physical or occupational therapy "homework."

Home care is a service that can save you and your family a lot of money, time, and frustration in the long run by preventing a readmission to the hospital. At Home Instead Senior Care, we're trained and experienced in providing the care you need with trusted and skilled caregivers and support staff. Call us today and see how Home Instead Senior Care can help with returning home.       


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