It is an unavoidable fact that many elderly adults will require a hospital stay at some point during their senior years. When the time comes for your elderly parent or relative to be discharged from the hospital, here are some things you'll need to know.
Discharging Elderly Patients from Hospital
The proper care after hospital discharge is crucial for ensuring the senior does not end up right back in the hospital. Coordination and communication between the hospital and at-home caregivers will ensure proper after-hospital care for the elderly.
The process of discharging a patient from the hospital starts well in advance, with the staff and coordinators consistently evaluating their requirements. The goal is to have everything ready for their release as soon as the doctor approves it medically.
Additionally, in the late 2010s, a new legislation called the CARE Act was passed in most states that aims to facilitate the transition from hospital to home for elderly patients and their caregivers. The CARE - Caregiver Advise, Record, Enable Act requires hospitals to:
- Record the name of the family caregiver on the medical record of your loved one
Inform the family caregivers when the loved one is to be discharged from the hospital
Provide the family caregiver with education and instruction on the medical tasks they will need to perform for the patient at home.
These requirements help ease the transition from discharge from the hospital to care at home.
Discharge planning helps prevent the elderly from being discharged from the hospital too soon. While only a doctor can officially discharge a patient, the discharge planning is usually accomplished by a small team of people, including a nurse or social worker and the elderly person’s caregiver. Discharge planning typically includes:
Evaluation of the patient to determine their needs
Discussing the discharge plan with the patient and their caregiver
Going through medications to make sure the patient will have everything they need once they are discharged
Determining what sort of caregiving the patient needs and if it can take place at home or if alternate arrangements need to be considered. The safety of the home will also be taken into consideration.
Arranging follow-up appointments or tests
Often the elderly are weak after a hospital stay and require additional care. It is very important that the caregiver be open and honest about their limitations when discussing discharge so all the elderly patients' needs can be met.
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Can a Hospital Discharge a Patient with Nowhere to Go?
No, a hospital cannot discharge a patient with nowhere to go. It is unfortunate, but some elderly patients are left without support from their families and are forced to remain in hospitals for extended periods of time due to a lack of alternative options. This situation is potentially hazardous, not only because the patient may contract an infection while in the hospital, but also because they occupy a bed that could be used by another person in need. Many states are working on plans and task forces to address this challenging situation.