Healthcare is complicated and therefore requires regular coordination between the various parties involved: family members, doctors, medical specialists, and others. The needs can be planning for surgery or other medical treatments, medication management, home safety upgrades, nutritional assistance or emotional support.
Who Should Do It?
When planning for long-term care with your loved ones, openly discuss the need for someone to be a liaison to help to organize the various parties and needs as they arise. This might include creating a schedule, hiring transportation for medical appointments, meal planning and more.
Not everyone has a large family or network of trusted loved ones and friends to rely on for an indeterminate period of time, providing up-to-the-minute care coordination. In these instances, a professional coordinator—perhaps a nurse with an in-home care agency who is trained in providing these services—can be hired to fill in. For example, the nurse might oversee that caregivers successfully help the individual go from an acute hospital stay to rehab and then home, or even back to the hospital.
A coordinator can also keep others—such as family who live out-of-town or who cannot leave work to help—updated about expected outcomes, current treatments, and well-being goals. This person may need to communicate with physical therapists, hospice care workers, and oxygen and medical equipment companies.
Proper care coordination has the potential to increase well-being, possibly even decrease time spent sick and in a hospital. For example, a care coordinator may have spoken to the individual’s doctor who explained that there is a risk for falls and to make the home environment safer. This information can be shared with someone who is at the home, with specific instructions on how to remove tripping hazards or better illuminate some rooms.
Similar scenarios can play out when it comes to following nutritional guidelines, managing medications, helping with transitions and maintaining emotional well-being. Each one of these elements may include communication and planning with a different specialist, requiring the coordinator of the care to put all of the pieces together.
According to the National Institutes on Aging, creating a positive (all-encompassing) home health routine can help your loved one feel less chronic pain, achieve greater independence and mobility, and decrease their risk for depression, injury and other medical emergencies.