Marteny: Negotiating through the various health experts
On a daily basis, seniors have a family doctor who is called a general practitioner. This is a medical doctor who diagnoses and treats most types of health conditions or diseases.
However, when they are in the hospital, most likely they will be attended to by a hospitalist.
This is a medical doctor who specializes in hospital care and may be the attending physician in place of a family doctor.
There will also be registered nurses who coordinate health care, provide nursing care, treatments, education and support to patients in situations of health, illness, injury and disability in all stages of life.
A licensed practical nurse provides nursing care, treatments, education and support to patients in situations of health, illness, injury and disability. They do not have the education or scope of knowledge of an RN.
A health care aid is a health professional who works under the direction of a RN, LPN or a doctor. They are also referred to as resident care aides, nursing assistants, nurses’ aides or hospital assistants.
When seniors are ready to leave the hospital, a discharge planner will develop a discharge plan to make sure that they leave the hospital safely and smoothly and get the right care after that.
It is important for families to be involved with the discharge plan.
They need to tell the discharge planner what the seniors are capable of doing to care for themselves and who is available to assist them.
With the discharge plan, families should understand why the seniors are going home or to another health care setting and why the care is changing. They need to know the medications and medical follow-up required. Any medical equipment to be used should be put in place and people trained on how to properly use it.
Families should be in agreement with the discharge plan. If not, they should continue to work with the discharge planner until there is mutual agreement. This is not a one-way dialogue.
When seniors leave the hospital it must be to a safe environment, which may mean that they cannot return to their own homes, especially if they are living alone.
The families and seniors might determine that now is the time for the seniors to move to supportive housing where their meals and housework will be done for them.
Also, they will have other seniors around them who might have gone through the same medical situation. Supportive housing is also called independent living.
When seniors are living in the community, a case manager co-ordinators help for them to obtain home and community care services.
They determine the nature; intensity and duration of services that would best meet seniors’ needs and arrange their services.
They stay in touch with the seniors to arrange care services and make any adjustments necessary in the event their care needs change.
Case management may be provided in the senior’s home, in an assisted living residence, at a residential care facility or in hospital.
For more definitions see the Interior Health 2012 Health Services Guide at www.interiorhealth.ca or call HealthLink BC at 604-215-8110.
Sharen Marteny is a services consultant for seniors in Kelowna.