Hello and Goodbye!
Have you ever noticed that as you age, time seems to move at a faster and more furious pace? So, too does the hospital discharge planner! These days, hospitals are under enormous financial pressure to discharge patients at the earliest possible opportunity. In fact, whether you or your loved one are being rolled into the ER for an acute crisis or to the hospital for an elective surgery, behind the scenes the hospital administration team is busy at work calculating your length of stay and earliest potential discharge date. Clinical data that can trigger a discharge date includes diagnosis, treatment plan and medical stability. These measures are carefully factored into the discharge process, which is fine tuned and adjusted several times a day, often unbeknownst to the patient and their family members. Many patients are under the false impression that if they are unable to walk steadily, need help with bathing and dressing or need to be on intravenous medication, they will be staying in the hospital until those issues are resolved. Not so! There are acute and subacute rehab facilities, home medical infusion companies and home care agencies that are happy to accommodate your ongoing needs – outside of the hospital walls.
While this decrease in hospital length of stay has some advantages – not hanging around long enough to acquire that superbug infection – it also shifts the costs and responsibilities back to the patient and family members for the recovery phase of an illness. This can often be daunting to navigate. How can you know which rehab facility will be the best choice for you or your loved one during the ongoing recovery? How are you going to learn how to operate an IV infusion pump for your antibiotic after only one or two nursing visits? How much home care should you hire for your loved one and how can you find a good match to meet your needs and budget?
In a recent article in Kaiser Health News, the author Judith Graham interviewed me and a number of my professional colleagues in the aging life care field. Her insightful article offers some excellent tips on coping with surprise discharges. The article also highlights the benefits of engaging an Aging Life Care Professional®.
Often unknown and underutilized, Aging Life Care Professionals can be a powerful resource for you. We are specialized, highly educated health and wellness consultants that can offer expert advice on a myriad of health care matters. We have many years of experience navigating complex medical systems and can be your strongest and most articulate advocate. So, whether you want to appeal an early discharge, plan for the next phase of recovery after an illness or simply get a comprehensive and holistic care assessment, reach out and learn about us at www.aginglifecare.org.