As a Discharge Planner, caregiver, and advocate for older adults, matching your patients with the right care solution can be challenging. When an individual needs to transition – whether it is to short-term care, rehabilitation programs, or long-term care – consider the following elements. By paying special attention to the items listed below, you'll ensure the seniors you work with feel informed and confident throughout the process.
Explain Necessary Levels of Care
Before discussing community options, it is important to clearly communicate what level of care is needed. Beyond questions about medication, treatment plans, and current mobility, discuss equipment needs, mental health, health history, and future needs. These conversations help your patient understand the many variables at play.
When you’re ready to look at care options, your patient's needs will determine which types of senior living communities are available.
- Independent Living: This type of senior community provides maintenance-free living in comfortable apartments and homes in a more active, social, communal residency.
- Assisted Living: This type of living supports older adults as they maintain their lifestyle while offering health and medical assistance.
- Long-term Care: This type of living allows older adults to get comfortable in a personal setting and enjoy amenities in a communal residency all while receiving 24/7 care from nursing staff.
- Memory Care: This type of living gives older adults a safe, yet stimulating, environment designed around their specific needs.
- Transitional Care: This type of arrangement is great for those seeking short-term health care and rehab services, which will allow individuals to regain health and build strength.
- Rehabilitation: This type of living provides physical, occupational, and speech therapies.
Providing accurate, realistic options is most successful when your patient is well-acquainted with how their needs and care options are related.
Discuss Personal Needs & Desires
It is essential to be honest, realistic, and open with your patient about which options are best. The transition process will move more smoothly by paying special attention to the following:
Discuss the area or neighborhoods surrounding the senior living communities you're considering. Is staying in a familiar suburb important? Is being closer to a family member, child, or friend a top priority? While the level of care needed may narrow location options, it might not be as important to your patient as where amenities and resources like doctors, churches, family, and friends are in relation to their potential new home.
When discharge planning for seniors, think about what is important to them in a residential community, and what they enjoy doing with others. For instance, if gardening is a big part of your patient's life, focus on finding communities to match. Many communities offer a variety of amenities, classes, outings, and activities.
As you likely know, transitioning an older adult to senior living can be stressful for the patient’s family. As you present your findings to those who are closest to your patient, focus on balancing your patient's preferences with their needs. While you likely do this naturally as part of your process, expressing it outwardly will ensure the family knows you're keeping their loved one's best interest as a primary focus.
To provide your patient and their family or loved ones with as much support and helpful information as possible, prepare some basic questions they may have, along with answers to them. Questions could include:
- What is the story of the recommended community and what are some details about their staff?
- How long is the older individual able to stay in the recommended community?
- Is the location of the community convenient, safe, and well-kept?
- Who do we speak with at the community for other questions and concerns?
Discussing the items listed above with your patient and their family will show them you're well aware of everyone's needs as you search for the right senior care option. To learn more about the several Walker Methodist communities, the various care programs we provide, and what suits your need, please talk with our Senior Care Advisor.