The Basics of Discharge Planning
Case managers and social workers are frequently asked to provide discharge planning for patients who have been receiving mental or physical health care at a hospital or other facility. Effective, efficient, and compassionate discharge planning can benefit patients as well as hospitals and mental health facilities in a multitude of ways. Health outcomes, readmission rates, coordination of service, and overall patient experience can all be improved with effective discharge planning.
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Components of an Effective Discharge Planning Checklist
Discharge planning checklists are complex and will vary based on the needs of patients and organizations, but a good one will identify the following:
Patient’s high-risk factors
Patient’s potential for self-care
Patient’s ability to return to the living situation from which they were admitted
Need for caregiver training or other support
Quantity and type of services needed by patient upon discharge
Follow-up appointments or tests needed after discharge
Patient’s chronic conditions
Medical equipment that will be needed post-discharge
All of the information should be determined through discussion with the patient and/or their representative, the health care professionals at your organization, and the home care agency and/or support agencies to which you are referring.
Discharge Planning Checklists and Beyond
The critical nature of discharge planning and its potential impact on patient well-being cannot be overstated. Discharge planning checklists can help case managers ensure a safe discharge and recovery for their clients. Consistency is important and a checklist helps make sure that discharge planning is done in a consistent manner. A well-developed discharge planning checklist can serve as the backbone of an effective discharge plan.
Capturing Critical Information
A discharge planning checklist can also be a good way to ensure the client has the important information they will need to maintain their recovery. Capturing crucial information such as important telephone numbers for care providers, follow-up appointments with doctors, and instructions about medication can go a long way towards helping clients understand the next steps.
Case Management and Discharge Planning
To be sure, just having a checklist doesn’t make discharge planning a piece of cake. Caseworkers providing discharge planning services should be trained in community resources and care coordination. The caseworker should also engage in active listening and be able to demonstrate strong behavioral interview skills in order to clarify any concerns the client has about their discharge plan.
Discharge Planning and Outcomes Measurement
A discharge planning checklist can give you a sense of how intensive recovery will be for a client and how much effort will likely be needed to ensure good outcomes. Tracking and analyzing data from your discharge planning checklists, patient well-being assessments, readmittance statistics, and other metrics can be a way to inform your discharge planning process and evaluate discharge programming. Examining what is working and what is not can give your organization the information it needs to improve your discharge services.