Getting the right medical care as you age can be complicated. Instead of an occasional trip to the primary care provider’s office, many seniors now have several different healthcare providers in different locations. Sometimes it can seem like every organ or problem has a separate specialist.
Keeping track of appointments, arranging transportation, and making sure everyone is on the same page about planned treatments can get confusing. That’s why continuity of care is so important, especially for seniors.
Here’s what you should know about how continuity can impact your senior parent’s health care and how we can help you keep everyone on the same page.
What is care continuity?
It’s rare nowadays that all of a senior’s medical needs can be met by a single healthcare professional. Most seniors will have multiple providers from multiple disciplines involved in their care.
Continuity of care is a concept in healthcare that means patients have an ongoing relationship with their healthcare providers, and information is shared seamlessly between them. This helps to ensure that your parent receives high-quality healthcare over time, even as their needs change.
An example of this could be ensuring that up-to-date lab results are shared between all the patient’s healthcare team members. Or making sure that a complete and correct medication list is given to assisted living staff when a patient first moves in from home.
Other terms that you’ll often hear along with continuity of care include:
All of these terms mean that healthcare professionals are working together to make sure that your senior parent gets all of their health needs met as quickly and safely as possible.
Health benefits of continuity of care
Healthcare institutions, such as hospitals, are required to take steps to ensure continuity of care for patients. It is still considered a best practice in healthcare, even when it isn’t required. This is because there are many health benefits to your senior parent’s care to having continuity of care.
When seniors can work with the same providers on a regular basis, they develop a trusting relationship. This encourages seniors to have confidence in opening up to healthcare providers about how they are feeling. Providers are then better able to act as patient advocates.
When seniors see multiple different providers who are unable to communicate with each other, this is called fragmented care. It can lead to issues such as overprescribing, missed signs of a health issue, or contraindicated treatments. Coordinating care helps ensure the care given is appropriate and safe for your senior parent.
Early recognition of problems
The better your parent’s doctors and healthcare professionals get to know them, the quicker they are able to spot something that might be off. Maybe it’s a slight limp on one side that wasn’t there last visit. Or a cough that sounds different. These are symptoms that many people ignore but could be serious. Many health conditions have a better outcome when they are discovered early.
Good things happen when your senior parent’s healthcare providers get to know them. They get to know the whole person, not just their physical problems. They can incorporate new information and changes with a holistic perspective. This allows them to recommend a course of treatment that meets your parent’s goals for life, not just their immediate physical need.
It can be frustrating to see a new healthcare provider only for them to not have your most recent lab work or the results of your most recent scan. Or they may get details mixed up from your medical record. Studies show that greater continuity of care can prevent these mistakes. It also leads patients to feel more satisfied with their care.
What happens when care is fragmented?
Fragmented care happens when there is a lack of continuity. This not only causes seniors to get less effective care but can also negatively affect their health. Examples of this could include:
Diagnostic tests that are repeated unnecessarily
Inappropriate medications or treatments being prescribed
Preventative measures that are missed because each provider assumed another already provided them
The patient and family members who are confused by differing opinions between providers
A pharmacist not noticing a medication interaction because the patient uses more than one pharmacy
Seniors move to different facilities, such as a hospital to a SNF
Missed appointments due to lack of insurance or transportation
Insurance rules that restrict where patients can get certain care
Problems can also arise if your senior parent has health issues that affect communication, such as hearing loss or cognitive impairment. They may misunderstand or forget names, medications, or events.
This is why it’s so important for all a senior’s providers to be in communication with each other.
How Verona Court encourages continuity of care
Our small assisted living homes—collectively called Verona Court— are the only residential care facilities in Orange County that offer true coordination of care and care management.
Our homes each feature a minimum of live-in caregivers who are able to get to know your parent and provide them with personalized care. This close relationship will help them spot early changes in health and alert your parent’s providers.
Nurses make regular visits to ensure that all of your parent’s health needs are being attended to and any changes in their medical treatment are noted.
Through our parent company, Parentis Health, we are able to provide additional services, including home health, transportation, and hospice services. Parentis Health is the only company offering these coordinated care services under one roof, providing a cohesive experience for seniors and their families.
Our integrated approach simplifies the entire healthcare process, so you don’t have to worry about finding multiple providers and coordinating their schedules—we do it all for you.
In the event your senior parent’s circumstances change, our Continuity of Care model ensures that the quality of care is never compromised, seamlessly extending access to appropriate healthcare services.
Contact us today to talk about how we can help your senior parent experience a smooth transition as they age.