The short answer to the title’s question is: it depends. Each patient, even when recovering from the same type of illness or accident, differs from the next. Furthermore, once discharged from a medical facility, there will be variations in homecare patient recovery time as care quality can vary widely depending on:
- The type of medical condition that necessitated hospitalization and whether this was acute or chronic.
- Patient age and gender – the older the patient, the more likely they are to need in-home care, with women over age 80 three times as likely to need care as men.
- Availability of in-home care: are there certified care agencies nearby if family members can’t take the job and is it affordable?
There are real benefits to homecare services during the recovery process, which we cover below.
In-home care reduces unnecessary hospital re-admissions
A Private Duty Benchmarking Survey in 2010 showed that hospital discharge planners are among the most significant referral services of home care agencies. This is due to the fact that the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) have reported that up to 75 percent of readmissions are potentially preventable; by reducing re-admissions, an estimated “$26 billion could be saved over the next ten years.”
Because patients still need transitional care in this important post-hospitalization recovery period, more facilities are turning to home care agencies to fill care gaps that could prevent costly re-admissions. Both the “Care Transitions Intervention” and “Transitional Care Model” programs recognize the important roles played by (non-medical) healthcare personnel in helping medical facilities comply with government mandates pertaining to re-admissions.
Aging in Place coordinated care compared to routine service home care
While even a patient’s physician may not be able to accurately pinpoint a target date for recovery, there is little doubt among medical providers that the availability of care in the home contributes to a faster recuperation for most people not suffering from terminal or chronic long-term conditions. Studies have shown that long-term care patients especially benefit when their care coordination is through an Aging in Place (AIP) program, compared to a more traditional approach.
The care and assessments managed by care coordinators influenced and improved utilization of services by patients, cost outcomes, and showed positive impact on functional and cognitive abilities. In addition, when compared to care received in nursing homes, patients in the AIP groups showed improvement when measured in terms of cognitive ability, incontinence, depression levels and performing daily living activities.
Stroke victims and home care
A recent article in Caring News reported that the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that average annual care costs for stroke patients were at least $38.6 billion. Due to the government’s new regulations to control healthcare costs, one of the provider’s mandates is to prevent readmissions, saving the facility (and government) money. In addition, the same article reports that stroke patients themselves prefer to recuperate at home, in familiar surroundings. The patient’s care team will often develop a specialized homecare patient recovery plan providing services along these lines:
- Skilled home care and rehabilitation services
- Coordinated care and transportation
- Non-medical in-home care, including toileting, grooming, bathing, meal preparation, housekeeping and related tasks
No place like home
The fact is that most respondents to a 2012 AARP survey – over 90 percent of seniors interviewed – want to ‘age in place” in their own homes and communities, and intend to continue living there for at least the next 10 years. As a result, discharge planning for homecare patient recovery following a hospitalization must become a top priority.