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Discharging the elderly (and others): Continuation of care

As people age into their golden years, more often than not they will end up visiting the hospital for health conditions ranging from falls to strokes. For severe cases of hospital visits, the elderly would normally be admitted for a few days up to weeks and it often results in a need for lifestyle changes for them. However, not all hospital discharges result in the elderly resuming their normal lifestyle as some of them require further follow-ups on progress as well as a certain level of professional care family members are usually unable to provide alone. Upon knowing that, some of the questions family members usually have in regards to that matter: How will the discharge be carried out? What do we need to know about our loved one’s care needs? Where will they live to get professional care besides the hospital?

When will my elderly loved one be discharged?

One of the factors to consider before the discharge of elderly patients is their health condition. Your loved one’s care team must be satisfied that their patient is well enough to leave without the need of returning for more treatments and just occasional check-ups. Besides that, accommodation is also taken into consideration whereby there should be proper care or alternative support is provided to allow them to return home safely.

Treatment and care plans

A treatment plan will be devised first whereby the patient’s relevant health information, medication or therapies and hospital visits or stays will be documented with the consent and guidance of the patient, family members and relevant professionals involved. After the treatment plan is finalized, a care plan will be created to evaluate the ability of the patient to live independently throughout the time of care.

Establishing a discharge date

As simple of a matter as this would seem to be, it should be handled properly on a case-to-case basis. For example, if your elderly loved one is suffering from Alzheimer’s disease or needs professional care at home, time is needed to gather medical supplies. In addition to that, transport arrangements from the hospital as well as professional care service require time to be established. Another issue with ensuring a proper discharge date is set is that some hospitals have a higher demand for beds, therefore, patients who no longer need hospital treatment are required to vacate the bed as soon as possible.

Managing a hospital discharge

Matters related to the discharge of your elderly loved one will usually be coordinated by a key worker in the hospital. A key worker is someone who plays a vital role in the healthcare service and usually refers to the nurse taking care of your elderly loved one throughout the hospital stay. Nurses are often the key worker as they play a pivotal role throughout the discharge process as they are the ones who actually monitor and keep track of the patient’s progress before, after and throughout their hospital stay.

What is Reablement?

Reablement is another term for recuperation or recovery after being discharged from the hospital and may require specific life changes temporarily. Usually, a recovery team will keep track of your elderly loved one’s transition of lifestyles from the point of discharge with some form of consultation from a liaison nurse, discharge coordinator or an assessment officer. A clear set of requirements will be established through the recuperation and discharge plan. The rest of it is up to your elderly loved one and your family to decide how to provide the necessary needs to allow the best form of recovery.

Considering a nursing home or care home

Nowadays, with living expenses rising, most families have started to opt for having fewer children in the house or family members have moved around for work obligations. This makes it harder for family members to take care of their elderly loved one as even if there is no problem with the number of family members, most of them would either have daily responsibilities to carry out and would not be at home for a majority of the day. This leads to family members opting for in-home care or a nursing home as alternatives to this problem. However, by the end of the day, the final decision should come from your loved one as it is their life that will be affected by the choices made.

Arranging private live-in care at home

Most families usually prefer getting private live-in care at home for their elderly because there is no need for their loved one to go to another facility as they can just be comfortable at home. Besides that, they are also able to continue being independent with no interruptions or restrictions to their usual lifestyle.

Who will care for my parent at home?

Usually a caregiver is assigned to care for and aid your elderly loved one at home and it is usually up to the family to decide if they want a live-in or daily basis caregiver. Caregivers can carry out light housekeeping and non-medical tasks such as keeping track of your loved one’s medication routine. Besides that, they also provide companionship and emotional support by aiding your elderly loved one in their daily routines while helping them maintain their independence. However, if your elderly loved one requires medical tasks to be performed on them on a regular basis such as wound dressing changes or handling of medical equipment at home then a nurse would be a better option to take care of them or working in tandem with the caregiver on an as-needed basis.