Monday, March 12, 2012

About Damned Time!

No, this isn't a post kvetching about the annual change to Daylight Savings Time (which I loathe with every fiber of my being). It's about hospitals finally recognizing that they can do more for their elder patients.

At least one-third of hospital patients older than 70 leave more frail than when they arrived, and many become too weak to go home. Nursing home care or rehabilitation often are needed, and even then, research suggests more than two-thirds remain weaker a year after being in the hospital.

Elder-care experts challenge the idea that this decline is an inevitable part of growing old. They say conventional hospital care focusing on treating disease rather than preventing frailty contributes to the problem.

"Non-medical people say, 'Grandma went to the hospital with pneumonia ... and she was never the same again," said Dr. Kenneth Covinsky, a geriatrics specialist at University of California at San Francisco. "Pneumonia is a serious illness, but it is treatable" and should not leave patients disabled.

He and other advocates say hospitals need to revamp old-fashioned models of patient care to address the nation's aging population — from getting patients out of bed to offering better food and homey surroundings.
[Emphasis added]

Well, duh!

All patients do better if they are encouraged to get out of bed and do a little walking, even if it is with assistance. Lying in bed facing four white walls and/or a television set for twenty-fours a day is not conducive to healing.

And offering food that is more palatable is also a good thing. What complicates it somewhat for elders is special diets for those with full or partial dentures are sometimes required, but all hospitals have dieticians who should know this and design the elders' food accordingly. And serving foods in cellophane packaging (such as sandwiches or cookies) or cartons (such as milk or juice) may require aides to open them for the elders if arthritic hands and fingers make it difficult.

This is not rocket science, people.

Yes, the improvements may require additional expense, but they aren't nearly as expensive as a stay in a convalescent hospital or nursing home after release from the hospital. Further, judicious use of volunteers trained to work with elders with special needs may diminish some of that expense.

For more tips on hospital care for elders, go visit Ronni Bennett's helpful post on How To Survive A Hospital Say." Once again, she brings the truth.

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Blogger shrimplate said...

Staffing staffing staffing.

Hospital administrators HATE staffmembers. We're a drain.

My own nursing supervisor has told *others* that I am "old-fashioned" because I get my fucking patients out of bed for more than 10 fucking minutes a day. (This issue provokes me. Sorry.)

I have taken weekends off only to come back on Monday to find one or more of "my" frail patients with new bedsores. Has this happened more than once? Yes. Across state lines and among several different facilities.

These cost about $10K a piece to heal.

You need staff to do the time-consuming and laborious work of getting weak sick (and often obese,) people out of bed, feeding them, keeping them clean, ambulating, etc. But this will never happen. It's too late.

Profits, not people.

I am not currently working. I may leave nursing entirely. Barista work looks good to me right about now.

8:51 AM  
Blogger Diane said...

I'm torn between giving this the "Best Comment Ever" award and "Most Depressing Comment Ever" award.

Clearly the cost of adequate staffing is the reason hospitals have pretty much shined elders (and other frail and vulnerable patients) on.

Damned "for profit" healthcare: it's what's killing too many of us.

11:03 AM  

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