Frequent visits to the emergency room are more common among the elderly for several factors. Some may be fatal while others may be minor incidences that may not require intimidate medical care. You often hear of hospitals needing additional medical care professionals. Social workers are among the most sought out health care professional needed to assist in caring for patients at home and keeping them out of the hospital and emergency room.
Studies in the US show that emergency visits keep climbing each year. A survey of over 2000 emergency rooms in March 2015 shows that the visits have risen by three quarters since January 2014, placing a lot of pressure on the facilities to keep rooms available for incoming and returning patients. The surprising thing is that half of these visits end up being minor health incidences that can be handled at home by health care professionals.
How can social workers reduce the number of hospital visits?
Visiting patients at home
An example of an emergency room trip that could have been avoided by having a social worker involved in the patient’s care, is that of an 82 year old patient who one day could not feel her legs. She had recently been discharged from the hospital after having suffered a fall. She panicked and called 9-1-1 and was rushed back to the emergency room. With the advent of a social worker from her local hospital, this trip may have been avoided along side with frequent visits by a home health agency. With continued care at home via a home health agency and a social worker, the patient acknowledges that she now has no need to frequently go to the emergency room. In a combined effort with her health care provider and her home health team, they can manage her condition in the comfort of her home. Many patients can benefit from frequent home health visits to ensure they are following their plan of care, instead of panicking and causing an unnecessary trip to the ER.
Managing chronic illnesses
Chronic illnesses such as diabetes, heart disease and high blood pressure are some of the main causes of emergency room visits. Social workers have a team of nurses or other qualified medical professionals who can manage these conditions at home. The team visits the patients and educates them on ways to improve life with their conditions and with instructions from their doctors. For senior citizen patients with high blood pressure, a social worker can help ensure that proper monitoring equipment needed to monitor their blood pressure is provided to the patient.
Mayer a patient with congestive heart failure and lung disease, has received several visits from a social worker in a local hospital in Reno. The social worker carried out routine evaluations of his condition and ensured that he adheres to his doctor’s instructions. These visits have led to a reduction in number of emergency room visits for Mayer.
Education For Patients Care
Many cases reported in emergency room visits are non-alarming issues that can be easily solved outside the ER. Other cases are attributed to mere anxiety and fears alluded by the patients, hence the need for social workers. Those employed by hospitals are to educate patients and their family members, especially elderly patients, on how to manage any medical situation that can occur. Educating people on caring for such patients can help to reduce cost of health care by getting rid of unnecessary ER visits. Social workers also educate patients on available resources in their local area that can assist the patient with continued care at home.
Organizing transportation for patients
Elderly patients often require assistance with organizing and scheduling doctor appointments. Many times they forget to even make an important appointment for follow up care. Such laxity has widely contributed to the increased visits of emergency rooms. Social workers can come up with helpful plans for such patients which include finding appropriate means of transportation to the doctor and helping the patient make it to their appointment. The social worker also ensures that the patient makes follow up appointments as needed and gives them helpful tips for remembering to attend their appointments.
Securing Health Insurance to Patients
Some of the hospitals’ social workers go the extra mile to secure health insurance services to those patients who may not be able to afford to pay for care. Many times social workers assist patients in applying for Medicare or Medicaid health insurances. They work along side with many agencies who have various programs that can assist elderly patients who are in need. According to one leader of a team of social workers from a Milwaukee hospital, they use some of their budget to assist patients who may not be able to afford care with funds to cover some costs. The results of their actions are beginning to surface with a sixty-eight percent reduction in the number of people visiting the emergency room in that hospital during a period of four months. Though not a cheap course, it has hugely reduced the number of ER visits in that hospital.
Social workers play a vital role in reducing the number of emergency room visits and thus they are a great resource to have for patient care.