How We are Helping Older Adults After Hospital Discharge

Care After Hospital Discharge

Because of their advanced training, the professional caregivers at HomeCare of the Rockies are a support to both older adults and to medical providers by helping to minimize complications and prevent readmissions after hospital discharge.

For older adults, returning home after a hospital stay is fraught with risks and challenges that can cause additional health problems and land them right back in the hospital.

Nearly 20 percent of people 65 and older on Medicare are readmitted within 30 days of their initial hospital discharge, according to report in the New England Journal of Medicine.

Yet, an average of 27 percent of all readmissions may be avoided with better transitional care, according to a report co-authored by Dr. Eric Alper.

Comprehensive discharge planning coupled with care support and improved communication between the patient, providers, and caregivers, can reduce readmission rates and lower the risk of health complications for older adults, according to research published by the National Institutes of Health.

That’s where a qualified caregiver with advanced training can make a significant difference. When patients received in-home care from a caregiver with professional training, emergency room visits dropped by 24 percent, according to one study.

Not only does advanced caregiver training mean better care for older adults, but it also eases stress and increases confidence for caregiving professionals. And, professional caregivers can be a cost-effective alternative to families, who must often balance caregiving with their own sick days and work schedules and for the hospitals who can be penalized for high-admission rates.

A qualified caregiver can help improve outcomes for the older adult, and their family, as well as the discharge planners, medical providers, and therapists who care for them.

The HomeCare 100 is the Difference

This is why we developed the HomeCare 100 Professional Caregiver Training Program and why at HomeCare of the Rockies we are so dedicated to educating professional caregivers. We see firsthand how comprehensive, professional training immediately makes a difference to the seniors we serve as well as the other professionals who care for them.

Through the paid HomeCare 100 trainings, our caregivers learn how to provide care support to meet the diverse care needs of older adults at every stage of life, including those recently discharged from the hospital after illness or surgery. Caregivers not only receive in-classroom education, but they also practice these skills in the hands-on practicums and Caregiver Labs that are part of the 100-hour training certification program.

“Our caregivers are taught ways to help older adults regain strength and independence, provide emotional and cognitive support, find new, safe ways of tending to the activities of daily living, and ease stress and agitation even as they are recovering at home,” says Sara Russell, RN, a caregiver educator with HomeCare of the Rockies.

This qualified, and responsive care approach means caregivers become an extra set of ears and eyes for the older adult and his family. They learn to become keen observers helping to identify potential risks and concerns before they become more serious problems for the older adult.

“Caregivers are trained how to be aware and observant of any potential issues and the challenges the older adult may experience after discharge,” Russell says. “They know what to watch for and are knowledgeable in how to respond professionally to each unique situation to keep problems from getting worse.”

Qualified Caregiver Support Can Lower Risk of Hospital Readmission

Hospital readmissions are usually a result of several factors including medication complications and mix-ups, overlooked symptoms and signs, failure to follow doctor’s orders, and a lack of follow-up care.

And these are just a few of the areas HomeCare of the Rockies caregivers are trained to assist with. We provide a bridge of consistent care between hospital staff, medical professionals, and in-home providers so that older adults get the comprehensive care they need to recover safely at home after a stay at a hospital or rehab facility.

Six Ways our Trained HomeCare of the Rockies Caregivers Support Seniors, Families, and Care Professionals After Hospital Discharge

Activities of Daily Living

Dressing, hygiene care, meal preparation and consumption, and the ability to manage the day-to-day activities are major factors when evaluating whether an older adult can return home or should move to a care community.

Yet, many older adults are discharged from the hospital before they’ve regained the strength and mobility they need to adequately handle these tasks. This adds to their risk of injury and complication and puts added stress and challenge on family caregivers, discharge planners, and medical personnel including home health specialists.

In the HomeCare 100, our caregivers learn to support seniors by adapting the activities of daily living so the older adult can safely and successfully accomplish some tasks with limited help or on their own. This not only helps them build strength and confidence, but it also helps prevent disability, bed sores, and other factors that can slow healing.

We also spend time training our caregivers in the delivery of personal care and hygiene support. Older adults may be reluctant to “impose” their hygiene and toileting needs on a family caregiver, and basic hygiene like showering and teeth brushing are an important part of preventing infection and other health complications.

Safe Transfers & Mobility

Movement can aid in healing and prevent further disability and other health complications, but many older adults need the support of a trained individual to feel secure and safe when moving from beds to chairs, or into the bathroom or other rooms of the home. And physicians and other medical care providers need to know that the senior will be able to move safely without hurting surgical wounds or straining healing bones and joints.

Our caregivers learn how to safely transfer the patient, no matter what they are recovering from, while also keeping themselves safe and injury free.

We also cover the use of medical and personal in-home care equipment like walkers, commodes, shower benches and other items can make mobility and the activities of daily living easier. HomeCare of the Rockies can work with discharge planners and medical care providers to find out what supplies and devices would best aid the senior, and then help the older adult install the devices and learn how to safely and correctly use them in the home.

Nutrition & Hydration

At HomeCare of the Rockies we also take a more holistic approach to care delivery with training in proper nutrition and hydration. These things are essential to cognition, mood management, immune function and overall improved health for older adults, yet patients may not have the energy or the interest to prepare meals, particularly in the initial weeks after hospital discharge.

In the HomeCare 100 Professional Caregiver Training Curriculum, led by HomeCare of the Rockies, caregivers learn the basics of good nutrition and how foods can aid in recovery and comfort. They study nutritional guidelines and learn a variety of tips and techniques that they then use to prepare healthy meals, in accordance with the older adult’s dietary guidelines and personal preferences. If the older adult is required to follow strict dietary guidelines, needs a liquid diet, or must have liquids thickened to aid in swallowing – our trained caregivers can handle it.

We also teach our caregivers how aging, illnesses, and medications can alter appetite and taste for older adults and then provide a variety of ideas and approaches they can use to encourage seniors to eat and make mealtimes more pleasant for everyone.

Symptom & Care Management

It takes everyone a while to bounce back from a health scare, injury, or medical condition that lands them in the hospital and yet, older adults are especially prone to reoccurrence and complications.

Even in the best circumstances, when families communicate openly with discharge planners and medical staff it can be difficult for older adults and their caregivers to fully understand and apply the care management regimens they need to follow for optimal recovery.

This leaves older adults susceptible to complications because they are confused or fail to recognize serious signs and symptoms that emerge while at home.

Our caregivers learn what to look for so they can help identify potential problems and changes before they threaten the senior’s health.

Medication Reminders & Therapy Homework

Caregivers trained in the HomeCare 100 can also help older adults manage their medications and avoid dangerous mix-ups – particularly in the early weeks after hospitalization.

Our caregivers pick up prescriptions, check to make sure they are properly filled and placed in easy-to-open bottles with large lettering so that the dosage instructions are legible to older adults. And, they also offer regular medication reminders and provide older adults – who often have a dozen medications to take each day – with a medication checklist to track each dose.

Healthcare professionals can also rely on trained caregivers to watch for side effects or medication interactions that can impact the senior’s health, mood, and comfort.

And because our caregivers receive targeted training on how to support home health providers, physical therapists, and others who deliver medical care support to the senior at home, our elderly clients are more likely to do their physical therapy exercises and follow through with other protocols that will help them progress in recovery.

Scheduling, and Transportation to Medical Appointments

We know, that one of the biggest challenges facing physicians and medical providers who care for older adults is the senior’s lack of continued care.

Half of the patients who are readmitted to the hospital never made it to their follow-up care appointments. Their failure to follow doctor’s orders and keep up with the continuing care required for recovery often leads to medication complications, increasing pain, infection, and other setbacks, that can result in re-hospitalization and even death, according to the New England Journal of Medicine.

So, the caregiver training we provide through the HomeCare 100 addresses that challenge by training caregivers to help schedule follow-up appointments, transport seniors to those meetings, and take notes documenting the doctor’s orders during each session.

By creating a bridge of care services with the professional caregivers, physicians, discharge planners, and family caregivers, older adults receive the care support they need to transition safely and comfortably from hospital to home.

Schedule one of our professionally trained, in-home caregivers now, 720-204-6083, to help the senior you care for heal better at home.

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