Our previous blog posts have covered the Challenges of Hospital Discharge for Elders and Ways You Can Help an Aging Loved One Have a Safe Hospital Discharge. Now we will share some important questions you should ask (a checklist of sorts) in the hospital discharge process.
Did I get written discharge instructions (example of a simple discharge form) explained to me with time to ask questions and clarify any concerns? Items that should be included:
o Reason for admission, procedures done, outcome
o Do we know who to contact if we have a problem after discharge?
o What symptoms should we be watching for and what do we do if we have a concern?
o Medication list (and how will I make sure all my doctors & providers are updated with the new list)
o Follow up appointments
Get information about follow up treatment and therapy that might be essential to recuperation. Find out:
o Will I be receiving therapy services at home, inpatient or outpatient? You will need to select a provider and the hospital will generally provide a list of options if you ask, but you should do your research so that you can make an educated choice. There is information online about provider outcomes and you may wish to check with your loved one’s doctor or geriatric care manager for recommendations.
o Does insurance cover these services (your insurance may impact the choice of provider)?
o How long can they be expected to last? What outcome is expected? (Share your goals and concerns as well.)
Find out about the patient’s home care needs and what assistance may be needed in the weeks following the hospitalization. Issues to consider:
o Patient’s functional status: strength, ability to transfer safely, bathing, dressing, weakness, physical limitations.
o Household needs: can the patient take care of the household? Do laundry, clean? Help preparing meals (in compliance with nutritional needs/medical orders)?
o Transportation: will the patient need rides to appointments or help with errands?
o Medication management: consider how the patient will get new medications and discard old ones properly, manage following a new medication routine, communicate changes to all doctors/providers?
*Most times, if a patient is returning home after a hospital stay, they will receive some Skilled Home Care services, covered under Medicare or insurance. These services often do not begin on the day of discharge and are not intended to cover custodial needs such as most of those listed above. Medicare may cover support from a home health aide, but only as long as the patient requires skilled services such as physical therapy or a R.N. (for example for dressing changes/wound care). If you have concerns about any of the areas above, you should talk to a licensed, private duty home care provider, such as our sister company EasyLiving, about affordable home care and transitional packages to fill any gaps.
Ensure the home environment will accommodate post-hospital needs:
o Is any special medical equipment needed? Have arrangements been made? Will equipment be delivered and when? Do I need to pick up equipment and where can I do so? Cost/insurance coverage?
o How safe is the home environment? Have we completed a home safety, falls prevention assessment?
o Does the patient have a Personal Emergency Response System in case he/she falls or needs to call for help?
If you would like professional advice on how to prepare for a hospital discharge, what resources are available and how to get the best after-care, Aging Wisely’s geriatric care managers provide caregiver consultations, in-hospital and home safety assessments and patient advocacy.