Hospital Discharge Planning: Insights
A recent study of the experiences of patients and their caregivers with transitions from hospitals to other care settings, published in the Annals of Internal Medicine, reveals the following insights:
1. When physicians show compassion toward patients and their wishes, including taking the time to talk with them openly about their conditions, patients and their families may make the best decisions about care.
2. Patients and their caregivers want to feel prepared to take care of themselves or their loved ones after leaving hospitals. They want assurances that their needs will be met until they have recovered their health.
3. Despite implementation of strategies to prevent readmissions, hospitals often don’t meet the above needs. The healthcare system often feels hazardous to patients’ health, unsafe and stressful from the point of view of patients and their caregivers.
4. More studies are needed regarding what patients and caregivers need and want after they are discharged from hospitals that include asking patients and their caregivers directly what they need and want.
5. Interviews with patients, caregivers and participants in focus groups show that patients and their caregivers want physicians to provide actionable information, simple gestures from health professionals to show patients that they care about their well-being, and collaborative planning.
6. Patients and their caregivers want to know who is responsible for their care at all times.
A lot of what patients and their caregivers need is not “rocket science,” but amounts to plain old respect and tender loving care (TLC)!
Post-acute providers can help hospital discharge planners/case managers provide what patients and caregivers need. Post-acute providers can:
1. Talk openly with patients and caregivers about their wishes.
2. Provide on-going support and recognition of the needs of both patients and caregivers.
3. Reassure patients and their caregivers that their needs will be met.
4. Show patients and their caregivers “the love!”
Together we can do better for patients and their families.
Elizabeth E. Hogue, Esq.