Guidance for Navigating Post-Hospital Care

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This sponsored post is written by Preeya D’Mello of repisodic.

Helping your loved one get proper care after they leave the hospital is one of the most important steps on their road to recovery. Many elder adults who are discharged from the hospital require what’s called “post-acute care” to help them through their recovery journey after an illness or injury. There are many different types of post-acute care and identifying the best option can be challenging.

As a caregiver, it’s important that you support your loved one in finding high-quality post-acute care. Better follow-up care can improve long-term health outcomes, decrease chances of returning to the hospital due to health complications, and lower overall out-of-pocket healthcare costs. It can also make a big difference in quality of life and overall independence for older adults.

Some basic background knowledge and a little research will go a long way in the post-acute care selection process. Additionally, a case manager, usually assigned to a patient as they’re being discharged from the hospital, can help guide you to the agency or facility that best meets your needs.

As your start your selection process, it’s important to understand that there are several types of follow-up care that fall into four main categories of post-acute care providers. Each type of provider offers varying degrees of medical services in different settings.

1.     Home health care agencies are for patients who are able to return home but still require some medical care or non-medical assistance before regaining independence. Home health care agencies send licensed medical professionals to the home setting to provide skilled nursing or rehabilitation.

2.     Skilled nursing facilities are for patients who no longer need to be in a hospital setting but require more medical care than can be provided in their home. Skilled nursing facilities are short-term or long-term residential facilities where patients can get physical/occupation rehabilitation, speech therapy, wound care, and other similar services.

3.     Inpatient rehabilitation facilities are for patients with complex medical conditions who require intensive hospital-level care for a long period of time. These patients may have spinal cord injuries or brain trauma and require services like stroke rehabilitation or prosthetic services.

4.     Long term care hospitals are for patients who require the type of high-level medical care that is provided in a hospital or intensive care unit (ICU), but for a longer period of time, usually a month. These patients may receive services such as ventilator care, intravenous (IV) therapy, or dialysis.

Once you figure out what post-acute care provider is the best type for your loved one’s medical condition and personal needs, think about some other factors that can help you narrow down your choices and make a care decision:

·      Understand the medical needs by talking to your loved one’s care team to identify the best follow-up care options. If your loved one has a specific medical condition (diabetes, arthritis, Alzheimer’s disease, etc.), you may want to select a provider based on the specialty services that they offer.

·      Verify insurance coverage to make sure that the post-acute care provider and the care provided are all covered under the patient’s health insurance policy.

·      Compare Medicare quality data, health inspection reports, patient reviews, and other key information to further evaluate and compare follow-up care providers.

·      If possible, visit the location and/or talk to staff members to discuss how your loved one’s needs will be addressed and how they handle different situations. Speak with current employees and residents about their experiences and assess the facility’s cleanliness and amenity options.

Helping your loved one navigate post-hospital recovery can be demanding and overwhelming for both of you. Remember that many caregivers deal with this issue and there are many online and community resources to support you and your loved one through this journey. Take advantage of caregiver discussion boards to learn more about follow-up care and learn from others’ experiences. And don’t forget, you are not alone!

About the Author
Preeya 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.