By Amy Henderson – HelloCare Journalist

For most involved, going to the hospital is a less than thrilling endeavour.

There are so many better activities to be doing, teaching your grandchild how to whistle, their precious face all bunched up with the effort or baking your famous lemon tart because frankly, no one else makes it like you do.

We are all in agreement, the less you need to go to the hospital the better. The last thing we want is for the hospital door to be a revolving one, once discharged it should be to infinity and beyond.

Thankfully, a combined team of researchers from the University of New South Wales, the Department of Aged Care, St George Hospital and Calvary Health Care have been busy conducting a study, good for nursing home residents, health care professionals and the health care system to boot.

Through their study they have spearheaded an intervention program for nursing home residents following their hospital discharge which has lead to a reduction of nearly 66% in hospital readmissions.

Costs And Consequences

The findings from the intervention were published in March and are already making a splash.

Simply put, the research paper highlights the importance of follow up care for nursing home patients after a hospital discharge, an area of care largely neglected for this group.

Dr Nicholas Cordato, lead author on the paper, senior lecturer at UNSW and senior staff specialist at St George and Calvary Hospital outlined the current situation and both the monetary and human costs of re-hospitalisation rates of nursing home patients.

He said that readmissions are currently frequent, costly for families and the taxpayer, feasibly avoidable and usually linked to lower survival rates and decreased quality of life.

Regular Early Assessment Post- Discharge (REAP)

Dr Cordato pinpointed a “lack of specialist clinical input within facilities” as a key factor needing to be addressed.

In light of this hypothesis, the collaborative team worked to develop the Regular Early Assessment Post- Discharge (REAP) intervention program.

Consisting of a coordinated team of specialist geriatricians and nurse practitioners to evaluate and manage a group of nursing home residents who had recently been discharged from hospital, the outcomes proved exciting.

The intervention program was made up of seven regular monthly visits, from both geriatrician and nurse practitioners, to nursing home residents in the comfort of their residences following the six months after hospital discharge.

After finishing up the study, researches assessed all the factors and found the numbers were displaying great benefits.

The Benefits Of REAP

Against the control group, almost 66% fewer nursing home residents were readmitted to hospital.

There were also 50% fewer Emergency Department visits.

To Infinity And Beyond, The Savings To Be Had

Professor Henry Bodaty, co-author or the study and co-director of UNSW’s Centre for Healthy Brain Ageing spoke into the longer term positive consequences of the study, “Importantly, the total costs were 50% lower in the REAP intervention group, with lower total hospital inpatient and total Emergency Department Costs.”

For this vulnerable subset of our society that has seen consistent and grievous neglect in attention and care across multiple levels of study and government, this research intervention program is likely to bring much good for patient and society alike

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