If you are over 50 and single, the thought has probably crossed your mind that finding home care following surgery or a serious illness could be a challenge. Even with grown children, older adults who live alone may struggle to piece together home care after leaving the hospital or rehabilitation center. A recent Ontario study found that insufficient home care is the gap in the health care system that most needs to be addressed.
According to a recent St. Michael’s Hospital news release, patients and caregivers across Ontario consistently reported the need for better home care support during the transition from hospital to home. A study of more than 700 participants over 11 months was recently published in the BMJ Quality and Safety.
Patients and caregivers surveyed told researchers the health care system did not provide enough home care to meet the needs of patients and support was not in place when patients arrived home. They also reported they had to advocate for themselves to get enough home care and said more support, such as a number to call if there was a problem, during the transition from hospital to home would be helpful.
Lead researcher Dr. Tara Kiran suggests that appropriate supports during the transition from hospital to home can help prevent poor outcomes among patients. All groups of patients and caregivers throughout the diverse number of participants said they wanted to see more publicly-funded home care. The study will help guide Ontario Health Teams as they plan for future improvements in the health care system.
It is most likely that with a rapidly aging population worldwide, the problem of insufficient home care, advocacy and support isn’t unique to Ontario. And until the gap in care is addressed, patients and families can help improve outcomes following discharge from the hospital by asking lots of questions and advocating for a proper home care plan with someone to call if problems arise. Ensuring continuity of care after discharge from the hospital can be a challenge, especially when there a number of service providers to coordinate. But with good communication and self-advocacy, patients can have better outcomes after leaving the hospital.