Companion Care can Reduce Hospital Readmission Rate

handsNearly 1 in every 5 patients, discharged from the hospital, is readmitted for one reason or another, within 30 days.  On October 1, 2012 Medicare began penalizing hospitals for patients, with Acute Myocardial Infarction (Heart Attack), Congestive Heart Failure (CHF), and Pneunomia, that were readmitted to the hospital within 30 days of their initial discharge.  Now, in 2015, conditions that fall within the penalty also include COPD (Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease,) various vascular conditions including Stroke, CABG (Coronary Artery Bypass Graft) and Total Hip and Knee replacements. The penalty includes all readmissions, regardless of the cause. Even if the readmission is for a different, or new, health issue. As long as the patient is readmitted within thirty days of discharge the hospital is penalized for it.  This is because readmissions cost Medicare an average of 15 billion dollars, annually on the national level.  In 2015, the penalty to hospitals, for readmissions increased to 3 percent of their total qualified reimbursements. With the rising costs of healthcare, this is sure to effect the quality of care that one receives.

Regardless of the penalties to hospitals and rising costs to Medicare, hospital stays are stressful on patients.  This is especially true of those that also suffer from Alzheimer’s/Dementia, elderly patients and those with chronic conditions.  Many hospital readmissions can and should be prevented. Some of the primary causes of readmissions are not following doctor’s/discharge orders, medication errors, falls, dehydration, poor nutrition, secondary infections and not keeping follow-up doctor’s visits.  Most of these situations arise when a patient does not have back-up support to help manage these things and monitor post-hospital care.  Unfortunately, for those that live alone, this can often be unavoidable.  Home Care workers, including Home Health Aides, Personal Care Aides and Companion Caregivers, offer the support that so many patients desperately need, providing medication reminders and monitoring, appointment scheduling and adherence, following discharge/doctor’s orders regarding proper nutrition and hydration, physical activity and home safety.  Having a home caregiver also helps in reducing fall risks.  For those patients that live alone this service can really help reduce the chance of another trip to the hospital as well as truly being a life saver. For those family members that cannot be with their, at risk, loved one knowing that there is trusted support gives them tremendous relief and provides peace of mind.