Coordinating Recovery After a Hospital Stay:
 Advice to Help Caregivers Navigate the Challenges of Post-Acute Care

Guest Post Author: Preeya D’Mello | Repisodic

One of the most challenging experiences in caregiving can be managing the recovery process after a loved one has been discharged from a hospital. Many older adults require some sort of follow-up healthcare service after a hospitalization.  These services, known as post-acute care, are some of the most important parts of the recovery process. They’re also some of the most difficult to navigate parts of the healthcare system.

Patients who receive high-quality post-acute care experience faster and better recoveries.  High-quality post-acute care can also lower overall healthcare costs and decrease the likelihood that a patient will have to return to the hospital with complications.

Post-acute care decisions are often made by caregivers.  With a little background knowledge and the proper resources, you can make an informed decision to ensure that your loved one is receiving the best possible follow-up care.

Elderly woman

First, it’s important to understand that there are four main types of post-acute care providers and each provider type offers unique services in different settings.

  1. Home health care agencies send medical professionals to patients’ homes so patients can receive skilled nursing and rehabilitation without going to a hospital or residential facility. Common services provided through home health care are wound care, physical therapy, and injections.
  2. Skilled nursing facilities are residential healthcare locations for patients who no longer need to be in a hospital but require a higher level of medical care that can be provided at home. Common services provided at a skilled nursing facility include physical/occupational rehabilitation, speech, and language therapy, and complex wound care.
  3. Inpatient rehabilitation facilities are residential healthcare locations that provide intensive hospital-level care for patients with complex conditions such as spinal cord diseases or traumatic brain injuries. Common services provided through inpatient rehabilitation facilities include stroke rehabilitation and prosthetic services.
  4. Long-term care hospitals offer the same level of round-the-clock care as traditional hospitals or intensive care units, but over a longer period of time (usually a month). Common services provided by long-term care hospitals include ventilator care, intravenous (IV) therapy, and dialysis.

A case manager, often assigned to a patient during the hospital discharge process, can be a great resource to discuss and identify the best post-acute care options that match the patient’s needs.  After identifying the appropriate post-acute care provider, consider the following factors before making a decision:

  • Meet or set up a call with your loved one’s care team to understand the medical needs and determine the best post-acute care options. If your loved one has a specific medical condition (diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.), you can narrow down your search based on specialty services offered through the provider.
  • Verify insurance coverage to make sure that the post-acute care facility is within the patient’s insurance network and that the treatment is covered under the insurance policy.
  • When evaluating healthcare providers, it’s important to compare Medicare quality data and other key information such as patient reviews and health inspection reports.
  • Talk to staff members at the provider to discuss patient care plans, how patient needs will be addressed, and how they handle different situations. If possible, visit the location and talk to current employees and residents about their experiences. Evaluate the facility’s cleanliness, amenity options, and medical specializations.

Nurse Talking To Senior Female Patient In Hospital Bed

Coordinating post-acute care can be demanding and emotional. Make sure to take the time to support your loved one through the decision-making process.  Online communities and discussion forums are available to support you and your loved one through the recovery journey and can help you learn from others’ experiences.  As with so much in caregiving, compassion and patience are two key ingredients for a successful path to recovery!

About the Author

Picture1Preeya D’Mello works at repisodic, a healthcare company that helps patients, families, and caregivers find the highest quality personalized post-acute care. After graduating with a degree in Biomedical Engineering and working at a medical device company, Preeya is excited to be working closer to patient care by building out her company’s free consumer products and resources. Follow them on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/repisodic/ and on Twitter: @repisodicinc

 

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