Making the Transition from Hospital or Rehabilitative Care to Home Care​

A homecoming from an extended stay in a hospital and/or rehabilitation facility is generally a happy occasion. It means that the worst is over for the individual returning home, and that they are starting a new phase of their recovery process in a more comfortable and familiar home care environment. As good as this is, it is not without potential difficulties.

The at-home phase of recovery can present challenges. Additional care may be necessary from loved ones whose lives are already busy, or from a professional caregiver. There may be new medications to manage and doctor’s appointments to navigate. There might be new mobility issues that could necessitate changes to the home care environment itself, such as the installation of grab bars and other kinds of home safety equipment. As happy as the individual and their loved ones are that the worst is over, there can still be bumps in the road ahead. What steps can you take to anticipate some of these issues and smooth the bumps as much as possible to facilitate a successful at-home recovery?

MedicAlert’s medical IDs and Protection Plans can provide an overarching umbrella of safety, security, and peace of mind for you and your loved ones making this transition. By storing critical medical information and making it accessible in an emergency, MedicAlert helps ensure fast and accurate treatment even outside the controlled environment of a hospital or rehabilitative facility. Our services provide an answer to the question, “What if something goes wrong once we get home?”

What questions should you ask the hospital or rehabilitation social worker?

Preparation for the homecoming should begin before the release from hospital or rehab with the assistance of social workers in these facilities. There are usually dedicated, on-site social workers to help determine what each individual will need for optimal, at-home recovery.

You can utilize the expertise of the hospital or rehab social worker by being prepared to ask the following questions:

  • Will you or your loved one be able to live independently or will you need assistance? If assistance is needed, can it be given by a family member, or should you hire a professional, such as a visiting nurse service or home health aide?
  • Do a thorough review of medications, including any new prescriptions. Be sure to ask about side effects, contraindications, and potential impact on recovery.
  • If your or a loved one’s mobility is impaired or if there are physical challenges to performing activities of daily living (ADLs), like personal care or shopping for and preparing meals, you’ll want to determine the best ways to make things go smoothly.
    • Will there be ongoing physical and/or occupational therapy, and if so, will the therapy sessions be provided in-home? If therapies are offsite, what are the best transportation options?
    • Is mobility or functionality impaired to the point that you’ll need help from a visiting nurse service or home health aide? Together, you and the social worker can pinpoint which ADLs will require the most help and develop a care plan.
    • An at-home care plan could include a Medical ID and/or Personal Emergency Response System.  Both are excellent, complementary safety measures that will help protect you or your loved one anywhere you are during recovery

How do you organize medications?

Coming home from a hospital or rehabilitation stay doesn’t mean the end of your care and recovery. Medications, whether new, ongoing, or both, are often an important part of your at-home care plan, and it’s just as important for everyone involved in your care (yourself, loved ones, caregivers) to know the answers to these questions:

  • What medications are taken?
  • Why are they prescribed?
  • How much should be taken?
  • When should it be taken?
  • What are the possible side effects and contraindications?

For multiple prescriptions, that’s a lot of information to organize in the best of circumstances, but if you or your loved one has any cognitive impairment, like Alzheimer’s or dementia, it can be all too easy to make potentially dangerous medication errors.

The available tools to organize medications run the gamut from pill organizers – the most basic – through centralized, full-pharmaceutical profiles. A standard pill organizer helps keep track of what medications should be taken in what amount and at what times. But, depending on the number of medications, the frequency with which they’re taken, and the health and cognitive condition of the person recovering at home, something more may be needed.

A personalized medical ID can provide a way to consolidate and present your medical information and history, including medications, conditions, prior surgeries and implants, and medication allergies, while also making this information accessible in emergencies. A MedicAlert ID, paired with a MedicAlert protection plan, allows you to maintain a full digital health profile that is printable (easy to take to your medical appointments), as well as easily recognized by first responders in any emergency. A SMART Medical ID Card is a portable ID card with a unique QR code to access your medical information anytime and anywhere. It’s easily accessible and easy to update. These valuable tools ensure that no matter what challenges you may face in the next phase of recovery at home – medication reactions, fall injuries, or other complications – you or your loved one will receive fast, accurate, and potentially life-saving treatment.

How do you conduct a home fall prevention assessment?

Completing your medical recovery at home after being in a hospital or rehab may be more comfortable, but it might not be as safe as the controlled environment of a medical facility. Until you or your loved one has fully recovered, there may be an increased risk for falling at home due to weakness or mobility issues. A fall injury at home could derail your recovery, landing you right back in the hospital with potentially more severe injuries than the first time.

Whether it’s your own home or your loved one’s home, the first step in assessing fall risk is to review each area (bathroom, kitchen, bedroom, den, hallways, stairs) to identify and remove any potential fall hazards. Fall hazards include:

  • Area rugs, loose wires, furniture in the middle of a room, and clutter in rooms, hallways, and on stairs.
  • Installing motion-sensitive night lights in rooms, hallways, and staircases
  • Installing safety grab-bars in bathrooms can go a long way toward reducing fall risk.

Do you or your loved one have a mobility challenge?

In addition to fall hazards that may be found within the home, you or your loved one’s physical condition – including vision and/or mobility challenges – can increase the likelihood of falling when you’ve transitioned back home from the hospital or rehab. If, even after rehab, you or your loved one feels unsteady on your feet or needs to frequently stop and rest when walking, you’re at a greater risk for falling. Similarly, you or your loved one may experience visual impairment, whether pre-existing, a result of illness or injury, or even as a side effect of some medications. Whatever the cause, like mobility challenges, visual challenges definitely increase the risk of falling.

If you or your loved one are at risk of injury from a fall at home, you’ll want to be sure that in addition to minimizing hazards, physical consequences are minimized as well. Should a fall occur, a MedicAlert ID and Medical Guardian PERS system will assure a quick response from emergency personnel. Response time and access to your full medical profile could mean the difference between a minor incident and another long-term hospital stay.

How do you select a MedicAlert protection plan for you or your loved one?

MedicAlert offers three different protection plans flexible enough to offer a level of protection to meet everyone’s physical and financial needs:

  • Basic Plan: All three plan levels include the core benefits of a personalized ID and digital health profile, and MedicAlert’s exclusive 24/7 emergency response service. At this level, your critical health information – allergies, medications, preexisting conditions, surgeries and your full vaccination history – is all in one place, and in an emergency, we convey this vital information to first responders so you get fast, accurate care.
  • Advantage Plan: Includes all of the above, plus emergency contact notification, 24/7 wandering support service, and a personalized asthma action plan.
  • Advantage Plus Plan: Includes all of the above, plus advance directives/DNR, document storage, and emergency physician notification.

How do you select a MedicAlert ID?

A medical ID is designed to speak for you in emergency situations when you are unable to speak for yourself. Because of its important function, there are several things to consider when choosing one for you or your loved one.

At the heart of MedicAlert’s protection is our original, personalized medical ID. The very first medical ID was an engraved bracelet, and that’s still one of the most popular options. But, in the 60+ years since the first medical ID bracelet, a world of options has become available with choices for everyone’s personality and lifestyle.

A traditional medical ID is wearable jewelry – bracelet, necklace or watch – personalized with the wearer’s critical information. Because emergency responders are trained to look on the wrist and around the neck for medical ID, a bracelet or necklace offers greater protection than other types.

Medical ID jewelry is available in a spectrum of styles; from utilitarian, made of stainless steel or other durable material, and plainly-designed to luxe and fashionable, made of gold, silver, or platinum with a decorative style. Digital SMART IDs and IDs made of materials like silicone are newer options, great for more active wearers.