Senior Care Study Shows Phone Calls May Keep Loved Ones Out of Hospitals

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Keeping your elderly loved one out of the hospital may be as simple as checking in by phone. That’s what the results of a new study from Harvard University have uncovered: if at-home caregivers used a specific checklist at the end of every visit, families avoided costly and dangerous re-hospitalization. Which is wonderful news because anytime a family caregiver OR an at-home caregiver provided by an agency, can keep your aging loved one comfortable, healthy, and on the road to recovery in their own homes it’s a good day.

The Dangers of Re-Hospitalization

Re-hospitalization occurs all too often in Texas—roughly 19% of all Medicare patients are readmitted within 30 days. Across the country, readmissions are responsible for an additional $41 billion in medical bills. But why is it such a problem?

When seniors are released, they’re given orders to monitor their own progress and seek medical assistance immediately if their condition does not improve. But these individuals can be unreliable. Psychological studies show aging individuals are prone to putting off treatment, fooling themselves into thinking they’re getting better, and maybe even lying to family caregivers to avoid being seen as a burden.

When conditions deteriorate beyond a certain point, re-hospitalization becomes necessary. By that time, it may be too late! Not only is re-hospitalization costly, the outcomes of such readmissions are often not good. Many patients who are readmitted require extended recovery periods and a significant percentage never leave the hospital.

The Value of a Phone Check-Up

While an over-the-phone check-up can never replace a hands-on visit, a Harvard study found that something as simple as asking the at-home caregiver a series of questions at the end of each shift can raise red flags before a “situation” becomes a crisis.

The study followed at-home caregivers who used a computer-based phone system to monitor seniors living at home. A series of questions designed by the study authors were asked, the answers to which were graded on a scale and used to determine how well the elderly patients were actually recovering.

Example questions asked of senior care service providers include:

  • Does the individual seem more different than usual?
  • Are they having mobility issues?
  • Have you noticed changes in eating habits?
  • Have you seen any skin changes or unusual swelling?

Shockingly, many home care providers don’t systematically record these observations on a regular basis.

Happier and Healthier at Home

Simply put, having an actual checklist decreased the numbers of re-hospitalizations within the study group. Supervisors were able to see these answers, spot potential dangers, and recommend medical intervention much sooner—with significantly better outcomes.

Is your senior home care agency doing all it can to keep your loved one healthy and at home? At Second Family Home Care, we offer an on-line service to our clients called the Family Room Portal. We want to alleviate some of those stresses of not knowing how the day or night went by giving the family member real-time transparency to the care provided by our caregiver and help ease some of the logistical burdens with our on-line Family Room Portal. At the end of every shift, our caregiver will verbally record a message about how the day went, specifically what tasks were completed that day, such as, gave a shower, made lunch, whether the client ate all the lunch or what percentage was consumed – 100%, 80%, etc.,  medication reminder, etc., We will also address specific questions the family would like to know each day, so the family can be kept apprised of every activity and/or concerns that might have come up during that shift. Second Family Home Care offers non-medical senior care services in Dallas, Plano, McKinney, Allen, Frisco, Texas and the surrounding area. We can help you help your loved one retain their independence for as long as possible without you having to worry about their safety. To learn more about the services we provide, call (972) 347-0700 today.

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Becca Metoyer, CSA, Owner

Our owner and founder, Becca Metoyer, is a Certified Senior Advisor® and is dedicated to placing qualified, appropriate caregivers in the homes of people who need help. Having been a caregiver herself to her aging mother for several years, she is uniquely qualified to understand the expectations of her clients. She is available 24/7 to help you and your family with your care needs.
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