Ensuring a Safe Transition from Hospital to Home

By Pete Lane, 9:00 am on

Seniors are especially vulnerable during the transition home from the hospital, and one in five people who leave the hospital are readmitted within one month. Medicare estimates three-quarters of these readmissions can be prevented. As a Centennial caregiver, you can increase the chance of a successful and safe transition by addressing these common problem areas.

Become Informed

Most seniors who are readmitted to the hospital say they did not understand the discharge instructions and new medication routine. Caregivers and seniors can avoid this problem by asking hospital staff plenty of questions and taking notes. Review discharge instructions before leaving and ask if anything is unclear. If your loved one still feels unsure about his or her recovery, reach out to a Centennial home care agency for additional in-home support.

Plan Ahead

Begin planning for discharge as soon as possible. Medicare provides a hospital discharge checklist you can use that includes important areas of concern such as:

  • Asking about medical equipment that will be necessary and finding out how to obtain the equipment.
  • Asking staff to demonstrate how to perform tasks that may require skill such as bed to wheelchair transfers.
  • Asking about changes to medication.

Avoid Medication Errors

One of the most common causes of hospital readmission among seniors is medication errors. If any medications are added to your senior loved one’s routine, find out dosing instructions and ask if the patient should continue previous medications. Make sure you understand the reason for each medication and request written discharge instructions for the medication changes. Dispose of old medication that should be discontinued to avoid mistakes.

Prepare the Home

Seniors who are returning home from the hospital may have trouble with balance, walking, or muscle weakness. Plan ahead by preparing the home. Remove trip hazards like area rugs, clutter, and cords, and install any safety features or home adaptations that will be necessary such as a wheelchair ramp, grab bars in the bathroom, or a hospital bed.

Follow-Up Care

In many cases, hospitals fail to provide information about follow-up care. It will be the patient’s or caregiver’s responsibility to schedule future appointments with providers. Schedule visits to monitor recovery progress, as timely follow-up is an important way to reduce readmissions. Half of all patients who were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days did not have follow-up care, according to a recent study of Medicaid claims.

Make plans for a safe and smooth transition prior to discharge with help from Centennial Home Care Assistance. Our experienced and trained caregivers can be present at the hospital to review discharge instructions, ask about new and current medications, and take extensive notes for both the senior and his or her family members. Learn more about how our hourly or Centennial live-in care can help your loved one after a hospital stay by calling 303.957.3100 and speaking with a Care Manager today.