Mary has been looking forward to the day her father is well enough to head back home – the place dad feels most comfortable and safe. But for both to have a smooth transition post-hospital visit, Mary will need to create a discharge plan.
Discharge Planning Starts Early
If you are fulfilling a caregiving role similar to Mary's, your first step is to have a meeting with the appropriate hospital staff – often a case manager or discharge planner – and let them know you would like to be involved in aftercare planning, including where your senior loved one will go upon discharge from the hospital.
Key issues to discuss with the discharge planner include:
- Expected date of discharge
- An explanation of the skill level required to provide the necessary level of care
- Staff recommendations for discharge options
- List of providers and resources for aftercare
Services and Rehabilitation After a Hospital Stay
There are three primary aftercare or rehabilitation options and each has its own rules, regulations and entrance requirements.1. Inpatient: Nursing facility/rehabilitation hospital
An inpatient option can be necessary if your loved one's doctor orders inpatient services or if your family member will benefit from specialist treatment following the hospital stay, such as intensive physical or speech therapy.2. Home: Certified in-home health care services
If your family member only needs part-time or intermittent rehabilitation or skilled health care services such as wound care or monitoring of medications and equipment, then home health care may be the right option for them. Depending upon need, care can be provided by nurses, nurse practitioners and physician assistants or certified home health aides. Find more information about in-home care services.3. Outpatient: Rehabilitation center or adult day health center
If your family member's rehabilitation needs are not acute and do not require inpatient services, then he or she may be able to take advantage of outpatient services. Caregivers, often provided by an in-home care agency, play a major part in providing transportation to appointments, dressing, meal prep and medication monitoring.
Family Caregivers and Post-Discharge Issues
There are many important factors and issues to consider before your loved one is discharged from the hospital. Here are just a few to consider:
- What level of skilled nursing care or specialist rehabilitation services are required and for how long?
- Are these after care services covered by Medicare or other insurers and if so, for how long?
- Does your loved one need fulltime/around the clock, daily or intermittent care?
As the primary family caregiver there are also many personal factors for you to consider as well, including:
- How much time do you have to provide care?
- Will you need to take time off from work?
- Do you have a back-up caregiver in the event of an emergency?
- Are you physically able to lift or move your family member?
- Can you handle additional tasks such as picking up medicine and taking care of your loved one's home?