With an aging population, more and more middle-aged adults are naturally becoming caregivers for their parents and are often guiding what happens once they leave the hospital. Overwhelmed by multiple responsibilities, and under-equipped to deliver the kind of care their parents require, this “sandwich generation” seeks guidance for taking on the responsibilities of caring and planning for a loved one with new healthcare needs. Finding time to provide this guidance can be challenging for healthcare providers, particularly as acute lengths of stay are becoming shorter, leaving an increasingly smaller window of time for caregiver planning and education before discharge.
Further complicating matters is the fact that there is no one consistent process, place, or person to help educate caregivers so they can coordinate post-acute care – leaving a void that can negatively impact both patients and providers.
Research shows that one in five Medicare enrollees is readmitted to the hospital within 30 days, and up to 75% of these readmissions are preventable.1 Research also demonstrates that both 30-day and 60-day readmissions can be reduced when patients or their caregivers are educated about post-acute care options, and when a care transition plan is in place to ensure the patient has the appropriate level of care for the right duration.2
In many healthcare settings, social workers are an excellent resource for families who need this kind of support and guidance. However, social workers are often only utilized for the most complex cases.
That’s why acute care nurses are in many ways ideally positioned to help encourage and prepare caregivers to serve as an extension of the care team. Caregivers can help to ensure medication adherence and reduce the chance of a readmission.