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Hospital Re-admissions: 5 Things Your Senior Living Community May Be Lacking

Hospital re-admittance is one of the great health care challenges of our time. Not only is it extremely costly—accounting for nearly a third of the $2 trillion spent on health care every year—re-admittance also indicates something went wrong during treatment. Perhaps the patient was misdiagnosed or neglected to comply with post-hospital directions.

While many of the circumstances leading to re-admittance are unavoidable, there are a few actions people in the health-care sector can take to lower the number of occurrences. Working with patients to ensure comprehension of the discharge plan makes a tremendous impact in reducing the number of re-admissions—as can involving others in post-hospital care.

“After patients are discharged, they often are not completely well,” explained Michelle Ingerson, RN, BSN, Vice President of Health Services for Bethesda Senior Living Communities. “They may face physical and emotional challenges that can prevent adequate healing. At Bethesda, we like to take a proactive approach with our residents.”

She explained, “We start with the initial assessment, listening to their preferences and getting an understanding of their challenges. Once the preferences and challenges are received, we come up with a plan of care that is discussed with the resident, family and care team. We then look at the care plan after 30 days to ensure everything is still accurate.”

Once a resident has returned to a BSLC community after a hospital say, Ingerson said, “we monitor them every shift for 72 hours. The close monitoring allows us to catch and address issues that may arise.”

She recommended senior living communities focus on five areas to reduce hospital re-admittance:

  • Take a holistic approach to dealing with each resident, considering each patient’s individual sleep patterns, eating preferences, daily habits, environments and more, to create a care plan that is effective with as little disruption as possible.
  • Once you have established the care plan, distribute it to every employee who interacts with the resident.
  • Create a checklist of signs to watch for, including signs of infection, water retention or adverse medication reactions.
  • Ensure regular water intake and watch for water weight gain when residents return.
  • Monitor post-hospital medications. Many patients stop taking medications when they begin to feel better but with antibiotics, the prescribed course must be completed to be effective.

“These are basic steps, but they make a big impact in the lives of our residents, and in our country’s overburdened health-care system as a whole,” Ingerson said.