Good morning, ProviderNation. The fine folks at Florida Atlantic University’s nursing school have done the heavy thinking (and, perhaps, the heavy lifting) for us all. They’ve produced a series of pamphlets, aimed at relatives and friends of those in long term or post-acute care, that they hope will help calm some nerves and keep families from dialing 911.
“Everybody is focused on cutting back on unnecessary hospitalizations,” FAU’s Ruth Tappen tells me. “We realized that we were focusing on everybody but the families and the residents, and the staff consistently told us that families, or sometimes the residents, are really the drivers of this. Very few providers will say ‘no’ when a family member asks to send a relative to the hospital.”
Nearly one out of every four residents are taken to hospitals within the first 30 days of their new lives in care centers, according to CMS data. The stress is awful, of course, but it’s also expensive: about $14.3 billion per year, the federal government estimates.
Easy To Use (But Some Assembly Required)
The FAU pamphlets (in English and Spanish, with Haitian Creole, Chinese, and Tagalog en route) are simple, colorful, and straightforward. Subject headings include, “Reasons to Prefer Being Treated Here,” as well as, “Reasons to Prefer Being Treated in the Hospital.” There’s even a special section for families and friends for those suffering from dementia.
“We tried to use the terminology that they would know—to fill them in on what a nursing home could do. A number of people said, ‘I had no idea that I had any right to be part of this decision.’ That surprised me a little bit,” Tappen says.
The pamphlets are easy to use, but there is still a little assembly required. Tappen says she hopes that care center officials will take care to hand out the pamphlets separately, apart from the massive data dump that occurs on Day One in most care centers.
‘Wonder How No One Thought Of It Sooner’
“Some people give people such a stack of paperwork that it’s really easy to miss,” Tappen says. “You wait a couple of days, so they can read it, if not at their leisure, then when things are little bit calmer.”
Seeing the pamphlets, some providers could be forgiven for having a V8 moment.
“Our members are always looking for good ideas, and this feels so simple that I wonder how no one thought of it sooner,” says Steven Chies, a consultant to Living Services Foundation, a board member of AHCA, and an all-around decent chap. “Look, that first day in a care center is one of the toughest days of any family’s life. And the better we can communicate with families, the better the care we can give. This looks like another great tool to help break down those barriers and let us do what we do best.”