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Effective Caregiver Transitions: A How-To Guide

September 28, 2015, 07:40 AM

Transitions can be hard at any age and under any circumstances, but especially so for seniors with changing care arrangements. Whether the change is between facilities or simply a personnel change, below are a few ideas on making that shift as smooth and comfortable as possible.

Transitioning from the hospital to home

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by armymedicine via flickr

Image Source (CC BY 2.0) by armymedicine via flickr

Sometimes, after an extended hospital stay, the transition to home care can be overwhelming. Discharge from hospital to home requires the successful transfer of information from clinicians to the patient and family and other measures to prevent readmission. One recommended strategy for making the hospital-to-home transition work is IDEAL, which stands for Include, Discuss, Educate, Assess and Listen.

  • Include the patient and family as full partners in the discharge planning process.
  • Discuss with the patient and family key areas to prevent problems at home including describing what life at home will be like, reviewing medications, highlighting warning signs, explaining test results, and scheduling follow-up appointments.
  • Educate the patient and family about the patient’s condition, the discharge process, and next steps at every opportunity throughout the hospital stay – there is no need to wait until discharge to drop all of the information on the patient and family at once. In fact, discharge should be mostly a review of information they’ve heard before.
  • Assess how well the diagnosis, condition, and next steps in the patient’s care were communicated and use that assessment to improve in the future.
  • Listen to and honor the patient and family’s individual goals, preferences and concerns.

Switching home caregivers

Part of easing into to being home from the hospital maybe hiring homecare. If after a period, the homecare personnel needs to change (we of course encourage you to consider Abcor for Chicago home care if relevant), that can also be a challenging transition. However, if handled well, it doesn’t need to be an uncomfortable disruption to the senior’s healing or daily life. Consider a period of overlap where the old and new homecare aides are both present – whether it be a matter of hours or days – both for you to get used to the new caregiver but also for the old caregiver to explain your preferences to the new caregiver. The short-term additional expense is well worth the peace of mind and trust that will be built in the time that your regular caregiver who you are comfortable with trains his or her replacement.

Transitioning from home care to assisted living

Eventually, homecare may not be enough and it may be time to transition to an assisted living facility. After choosing the best place for your needs, make the often challenging adjustment easier by keeping the following tips in mind:

  • Pack well in advance of the move. Don’t use this as an opportunity to sort through things and make decisions about what to keep – just pack it all up, slowly and not at the last minute, to lower stress.
  • Know what to expect. Visit as many times as you need to in advance of the move so that when you do get there you don’t feel that the place is completely unfamiliar.
  • Stay busy. Take advantage of the organized social activities of the new living environment. The social life is actually a huge benefit to an assisted living facility and can help you stay positive and focus on the advantages of your new home, as opposed to what you miss.
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