Home injury recovery can present challenges for even the most experienced home health provider. Thankfully, there are ways to help ease the processes that are often overlooked. From transitions to patient mental health, here are three key areas to focus on that will help maximize a home health recovery program’s effectiveness.
Provide Effective Transitions
A good start with home care is key to keeping patients engaged and focused throughout their recovery. Research shows that implementing a good discharge program positively impacts patient progress. A strong hand-off process between intensive hospital care and home recovery can do wonders for preventing oversights that could impact the patient’s outcome and cause unnecessary readmissions. An effective discharge program will also see to it that the process is safe by providing much-needed education and resources to the patient or their primary caregivers.1
When the discharging hospital initiates such a plan, it is responsible for initiating contact with the appropriate caregivers at the outset. Still, home health providers can empower themselves by requesting a copy of the patient’s discharge plan. This will provide a holistic picture of the patient’s needs and recovery goals. Plus, it also allows different providers to ensure they are working together as effectively as possible in helping the patient toward recovery.
Begin With a Q&A
No home health provider would deny the importance of patient education when it comes to recovery. During their absence, it is paramount that the recovering patient understand how to properly care for the injury: wound care if needed, and the appropriate level of activity and rehabilitation exercises at each recovery stage. But to ensure education translates into participation, using active learning techniques is key.2 This way, the patient owns the process; caregivers can be sure they are not overwhelmed or demoralized, which can lead to passivity.
But before active learning is possible, the patient needs to have a sense of a strong relationship to their home health provider, to their personal support network, and to themselves. The basis for any strong relationship is empathy. One study published by the Disability and Foundation Journal found that when nurses first asked patients about their condition and engaged them in communicating their needs and understanding the situation, outcomes improved.3
The study showed that a powerful way to provide this kind of empowerment to patients is to begin with a question-and-answer session. Home health teams can ask the patient a series of questions about their condition and treatment process. Then, after this check-in, they can incorporate what was learned about the patient’s experience and awareness into the advice or education they offer. It can also be useful to keep engaging the patient in the advice by asking questions throughout the conversation. Eliciting answers from a patient or student – rather than simply telling them – is a powerful way to make a connection, while also ensuring they are actively learning.4
Create Good Morale
The importance of mental health in effective recovery cannot be understated. A study published by Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology Journal showed that depression levels at the 1-month mark post-injury significantly impacted recovery rates one year from the injury.5 Patients may or may not show obvious signs pointing to the state of their mental health.
Although home health providers may not specialize in mental health care, it can be helpful to regularly check in with the patient. Getting a baseline of how they are feeling, as well as of their mental health support resources, can help providers offer guidance that can improve physical recovery. For patients struggling with mental health after injury, it may be helpful to encourage making use of chaplaincy or counseling services from a qualified provider. Educating the patient on the importance of leaning on their social support network, and how it can impact their recovery, may also help.
Keeping a clear view of a patient’s planned trajectory, and how well they are doing overtime, can enhance patient recovery. A good home health EHR solution can go a long way in keeping the important information together in one place – from recovery plans to notes on patient progress. Schedule a demo to see how Net Health home health software can help.
How Home Health EHRs Can Save Time and Help Manage Patient Goals
1 Family Caregiver Alliance, “Hospital Discharge Planning: A Guide for Families and Caregivers,” 2009.
2 Disability Rehabilitation, “Evaluation of Patient Education in Spinal Cord Injury Rehabilitation: Knowledge, Problem-Solving and Perceived Importance,” April 15, 2006.
3 Patient Education and Counseling, “From Nurse-Centered Health Counseling to Empowermental Health Counseling,” November 2001.
4 Educational Sciences Journal, “The Effectiveness of Some Elicitation Techniques in Developing Secondary School Students’ EFL Speaking Skills,” Dr. Marwa Mourad Saleh, 2018.
5 Social Psychiatry and Psychiatric Epidemiology, “The Impact of Psychological Factors on Recovery From Injury: A Multicentre Cohort Study,” 2017.