We have previously covered the inherent problems in the hospital discharge process and some important tips for ensuring a good transition, questions to ask/checklists for preparing for discharge.  Now, we’ll address what happens when you get home and some of the potential pitfalls (and how to avoid them).

The statistics on readmissions illustrate how difficult this time can be, and it is made worse for patients who live alone, have few supports or supportive services, chronic/multiple conditions and memory impairments.  It is pretty well known that hospital stays have decreased in length dramatically over the years and people are being discharged with greater needs and in greater state of illness.  This means the immediate transition time is more of a “danger zone” than ever.

1.       Medication management It would be unusual if no medications were changed during a hospital stay, so typically a patient can expect a new medication routine after discharge.  This leaves more room for errors, and also means the patient may have to deal with practicalities like getting new medications and discarding old/overlapping medications.  Our anecdotal evidence indicates that very few people handle this correctly.  If one takes a peek inside the medicine cabinet, many patients have multiple medications, prescribed at different times, which overlap or are contraindicated with each other.

EasyLiving can help with home care medication management services and resources for medication delivery and packaging services.

2.       Physical assistance during the immediate period (especially the first 24 hours) after returning home It is unlikely a person is strong and healthy when they return from the hospital.  Obviously, one is there due to illness or surgery and therefore may have lingering symptoms, pain, and medications causing drowsiness or dizziness.  Additionally, if a person has been in bed for much of his/her stay, muscles may be weakened and it may take some time to get up full strength.  Hospitals often initiate some therapy during the stay and encourage moving about as soon as possible, but one is still far from being in top shape when arriving home.  Older patients are especially vulnerable; with studies indicating more than half of those over age 85 need help with daily activities after leaving the hospital.

If you will be receiving Medicare or insurance covered home health services, most times these services do not begin on the day you return home, but typically come sometime the next day, making this gap period especially vulnerable.  EasyLiving works to compliment Medicare home health services and fill such gaps with supportive elderly home care

3.       Fall prevention Due to many of the issues mentioned above, a person is especially vulnerable to falls after a hospital stay.  You may want to review EasyLiving’s Falls Prevention Checklist or consider a elder home safety assessment prior to your return home.  We offer Wellcore, a Personal Emergency Response system with advanced fall detection features.  Contact us for more information on Wellcore and Pinellas County senior fall prevention resources.

4.       Help getting to appointments and follow up treatments Most people aren’t in good shape to drive immediately following hospitalization, so consider making arrangements for transportation, especially if you will be going for follow up treatments of any kind.  Our geriatric care managers are also available to help coordinate appointments, serves as your medical advocate and ensure quality, continuity of care.

Contact us today if you or someone you know needs help in any of these areas of home care, or has questions about how to make a safe transition home from the hospital.  We offer affordable home care solutions such as our “First 24 Hours” Program and “Transitions of Care” Program, Clearwater home health care services specifically designed for your safety after hospital discharge.