Post-Acute Care Advice after a Hospital Stay

Post-Acute Care Advice after a Hospital Stay

One of the most challenging experiences for seniors and caregivers can be managing the recovery process after a hospital stay. Often, it’s not the hospitalization that is most difficult, but the specialized follow-up care that many seniors require to avoid complications or readmission into the hospital.

This follow-up care, called post-acute care, is one of the most important parts of the recovery process. It’s also one of the most misunderstood and difficult to navigate parts of our healthcare system. Seniors who receive high-quality post-acute care after an injury or illness experience better, faster recoveries and have lower out-of-pocket healthcare. Post-Acute Care Advice after a Hospital Stay

Usually, your healthcare provider will inform you of the follow-up care you or your loved one will need upon admission to the hospital. Sometimes, however, you may not find out what services are needed until it’s time to leave the hospital. For these time-constrained and stressful situations, it’s important that you make an informed decision for optimal recovery. Patients are often assigned a case manager who can guide you through the post-acute care process and coordinate recovery as you or your loved one transitions from the hospital back to their home. The case manager can be a great resource to discuss post-acute care options.

To ensure that you select the best post-acute care for your condition, it’s important to understand the different options and identify what best suits your personal needs. There are four main types of post-acute care – each provides unique services in different settings.

4 Types of Acute Care:

  1. Home health care agencies send medical professionals to patients’ homes to receive skilled nursing and rehabilitation services without having to go to a separate facility. Common services provided through home health care are wound care, physical therapy, and help with medicines, such as injections.
  2. Skilled nursing facilities are residential healthcare facilities for patients who no longer need to be in a hospital but who require a higher level of medical care than can be provided at home. Common services provided include physical/occupational rehabilitation, speech and language therapy, and complex wound care.
  3. Inpatient rehabilitation facilities are residential healthcare locations that provide intensive hospital-level care for patients with complex conditions such as spinal cord diseases or traumatic brain injuries. Common services provided through inpatient rehabilitation facilities include intensive physical therapy and stroke rehabilitation.
  4. Long term care hospitals offer the same level of round-the-clock care as traditional hospitals or intensive care units, but over a longer period of time (usually a month). Common services provided at long term care hospitals include ventilator care, intravenous therapy, and dialysis.

 

After determining the type of post-acute care provider best fits your needs, there are some other important factors to consider before making a decision.

  • Meet with a medical professional to understand medical needs and determine the best post-acute care options. If you have a specific medical condition (diabetes, chronic disease, Alzheimer’s), you can narrow down your search based on specialty services offered through the provider.
  • Verify insurance coverage to make sure that the post-acute care facility is within your insurance network and that the treatment is covered under the insurance policy.
  • When evaluating healthcare providers, it’s important to compare Medicare quality data and other key information such as patient/family reviews and health inspection reports.
  • Talk to staff members at the provider to discuss patient care plans, how patient needs will be addressed, and how they handle different situations. If possible, visit the location and talk to current employees and residents about their experiences. Evaluate the facility’s cleanliness, amenity options, and medical specializations.

 

Navigating follow-up care is a challenging and emotional process, especially for seniors who have just gone through a major medical operation or hospitalization. If you’re a caregiver or family member supporting your loved one in the transition, be patient and understanding throughout the decision-making process. There are many online communities and discussion forums to find out more about post-acute care and learn from others’ experiences to make the most of the recovery journey. Remember, leaving the hospital is just the first part of the road to a happy and healthy recovery!

Ryan Miller is a recovering healthcare policy wonk and co-founder of repisodic, a health technology company that helps seniors, families, caregivers and healthcare professionals find the highest quality, personalized post-acute care. He was previously Director of Policy and Strategy for Siemens Healthcare, one of the largest medical device companies the world, but now enjoys building up and providing free profiles of health providers as well as guides and articles on a variety of senior healthcare topics. He lives in Washington, DC with his wife and dog.  www.repisodic.com

Post-Acute Care Advice after a Hospital Stay

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