“Many older adults do not successfully make the transition home well and end up returning to the hospital. In fact, one in five Medicare patients are readmitted to a hospital within 30 days after discharge,” according to a new Guide on planning for Hospital to Home Transition posted by the National Library of Medicine on its MedlinePlus website on Home Care Services.
The new guide (the “Guide”), entitled “Hospital to Home; Planning for a Smooth Transition,” provides advice and checklists for seniors and family caregivers to aid in preparing and planning for a hospital stay and a successful transition from hospital to home.
The Guide was prepared by the United Hospital Fund with a grant from the Administration on Aging, part of the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services (HHS).
Addressing seniors and their family caregivers, the Guide urges, “You can help ensure that you or your loved one makes a successful transition home from the hospital if you start planning for your hospital visit before you are admitted for a planned procedure or for unexpected visits to start planning for discharge the day of admission.”
“Planning goes a long way to help patients address the questions that arise during the discharge process and make a safe and smooth return home.”
Checklists on Planning for a Hospital Stay and Return Home
The new Guide provides several checklists to help seniors and their family caregivers plan and prepare for hospitalization and transition back home after discharge from the hospital.
Checklist for a Hospital Kit
In advance of hospital admission, the Guide suggests that you create a kit to bring with you to the hospital. Following is a checklist of items to include in your Hospital Kit, as provided by the Guide:
- “Insurance information and identification card
- List of your doctors, with contact information
- Emergency contact numbers
- Test reports, lab results and copies of recent X-rays
- Names and dosages of all your medications. Besides prescription drugs, be sure to include vitamins, herbals, laxatives and other over-the-counter products. You can use a “Medication Management Form” [provided by United Health Foundation's NextStepInCare.org site] to assist you.
- List of any allergies
- Health Care Proxy and Advance Directives. You should prepare these papers whether or not you are going to the hospital, but if you have not done this, the hospital can give you information.
- Other items to bring: eyeglasses, dentures, hearing aids and toiletries.
- DO NOT bring jewelry, money or other valuable items!”
Checklists on Preparation for Discharge from Hospital to Home
Other Checklists provided by the Guide include:
- What Questions to Ask to Prepare Your Home with needed equipment, supplies, and arrangements before the hospital discharge
- Health Care Tasks and Medication Management in the Home – Questions to Ask to Help you Do this Job Well
- Preparing for your Care at Home: What Foods you can eat, What Symptoms to Watch for, Who to Call, and What to Do
The Guide also links to What Do I Need as a Family Caregiver? — a pamphlet provided by NextStepInCare.org, which includes a checklist of the several tasks that may be required of you as a family caregiver, to help you assess whether you can carry out these tasks or will need help.
Other Resources on Hospital to Home Transition
The new Guide lists other resources for seniors and family caregivers, including the following:
- NextStepInCare.org — A website provided by the United Hospital Fund, which includes information and resources for seniors and caregivers on transitioning from hospital to home and other topics;
- Hospital-to-Home Discharge Guide – A Resource for Caregivers found on the NextStepInCare site, along with many other Guides for Caregivers; and
- The Eldercare Locator – Eldercare.gov — A service operated by the Area Agency on Aging, supported by the Administration on Aging, HHS, which provides search tools to help you find community resources that may be of assistance with a transition from the hospital to home and with all areas of eldercare.
For more information, see the HelpingYouCare™ resource pages on:
- Information About Home Health Care; and
- About Senior Housing and Care Facilities, including:
- Introduction: Senior Housing & Care Facility Options – Understanding & Choosing
- About Continuing Care Retirement Facilities (CCRC’s)
- About Assisted Living
- About Nursing Homes & Rehabilitation Facilities
- About Hospice & Palliative Care
- Monitoring & Improving Quality of Your Loved One’s Care at a Care Facility
- Find Home Health Care & Private Duty Aides;
- Find Senior Housing and Care Facilities, including:
- Find Assisted Living Facilities;
- Find Nursing Homes;
- Find Continuing Care Retirement Communities (CCRC’s) and Independent Living;
- Find Respite Care & Other Care Facilities;
- Find & Compare Doctors, Care Managers & Other Professional Advisors;
- Find Other Care Resources.
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