As much as you try to stay healthy and safe at home, there are fairly good odds that every resident of Mount Vernon and elsewhere will end up in the hospital at some point in their lives, especially as they age.
Hopefully, it will be a relatively short visit for a medical condition, perhaps due to something like being hurt in an accident or an acute injury that needs advanced care. Even people receiving hospice care may still require hospitalization for treatment of conditions beyond the abilities of family, caregivers, or home-health care staff, such as a serious, disabling fall, a cardiac event, or even COVID.
The team at Above and Beyond Home Health Care is familiar with this process. While our clients do receive health care, there are occasions when they need more care than we can provide.
In these cases, we’re happy to make sure the hospital staff is aware of their current health, including any medication or health needs. In some cases, we may recommend they need hospitalization during a visit. Or we may check in with their primary health provider to see if a referral is possible. The teamwork and cooperation here are important: everyone working with a patient should be encouraged to discuss the care they’re currently receiving and make sure hospital providers have this info too.
Home-health care staff also will be happy to help when the client is discharged from the hospital. Sometimes, they will still be in a lot of pain and need to recover, but are considered well enough to be sent home.
They may require additional home health services while they recover, which home health employees will be happy to provide to help them adjust to their changed situation but still try to help them remain at home as independent as possible, rather than relocating to a facility with higher levels of care.
While they’re at the hospital, however, there are some suggestions that family members or caregivers can make to the staff on their behalf. Or in some cases, they can take action themselves as an advocate.
You may still need full legal and official authorization to make decisions or talk to doctors about their condition on their behalf, but anyone can make polite requests to hospital staff, everything from asking a nurse or aide for more pillows or maybe a drink or snack. There are also some health issues to be concerned with during their stay.
- Avoid infections. Although the medical staff likely will take great health and safety precautions as a best practice, one of the challenges with these places, in general, is that there are a lot of sick people there, and some of their conditions are contagious. There’s also the possibility of contamination or other conditions causing a health reaction. For instance, it’s fairly common for people to leave a hospital stay but then develop a type of pneumonia. High sanitation protocols were put in place due to COVID, and some facilities never removed them fully. After all, encouraging people to wear masks, especially when many still wear them, could lead to a general policy of masks for staff and visitors.
- Help them feel comfortable. There’s not a lot that can be done to make someone super comfortable during a hospital stay, but at least you can look for ways to make things a little more bearable. This could include bringing in flowers, cards, photos, or other décor to brighten the room. Maybe their own bathrobe or something as small as a lipstick tube can help their mental well-being. You could also talk with nurses or staff about things to improve the room environment, everything from lowering lights to changing the temperature to requesting more blankets.
- Sit with them. Some people who are hospitalized may not have much energy to hold great conversations. But they can still appreciate it if people come to visit even if they perhaps agree to sit there silently. Visitors could read a book or magazine or on their phones while they take naps throughout the day. You could also read out loud to someone who can’t currently read.
- Check medications. Though admitting staff is supposed to ask about what someone is currently prescribed, they may sometimes forget some or have outdated info. But if you can keep track of these all and share them with the staff, so the patient won’t experience any withdrawal or other actions.
Be thankful that you’re living in a time when hospitals generally follow similar standards of excellence in the care they provide. They also have become places where patient well-being and patient input are encouraged and invited. In the past, neither was always the case.
This month is also the perfect time to celebrate these facilities. National Hospital Week runs May 10-14. It’s an opportunity to learn about the different facilities out there around the country, including different sizes and historic missions.