Length of stay

One of the most common terms heard in inpatient hospital settings throughout the country currently is “length of stay.” This essentially refers to how long a patient occupies a bed in a hospital. The objective of some hospitals is to minimize the length of stay in an effort to contain costs. Due to most hospitals’ priority of keeping length of stay as short as possible, discharge planning begins upon admission to the hospital. It is a process that capitalizes on social worker’s engagement, assessment, and planning skills.

An effective discharge plan ensures that a patient is being discharged to a safe environment that is conducive to healing and recovery. In some cases, this is different from the environment they were living in prior to the hospitalization. In addition, the discharge plan must adequately meet the patient’s medical needs outside of the hospital environment. This can include coordinating follow-up medical appointments and appropriate therapies, ordering medical equipment, arranging home health care, placing the patient in a skilled nursing facility, and linking the patient to supportive community resources. Constructing a discharge plan requires hospital social workers to collaborate with the patient, his or her family, caregivers, medical team, and community resources.

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To prepare for this Discussion, think about the components of discharge planning and the individuals involved in discharge planning. Consider medical social work practice skills within the generalist intervention model as discussed in Discussion 1 this week. Examine the factors involved in creating a discharge plan for a patient in a hospital setting. Consider the specific roles a medical social worker plays in creating a discharge plan.

Post a brief description of the components of discharge planning. Identify and explain the key factors that must be considered in the discharge planning process. Explain the roles of a medical social worker in creating a discharge plan. Be specific. Then, explain how discharge planning incorporates all of the practice skills in the generalist intervention model. Finally, explain challenges a medical social worker might face working with other professionals involved in discharge planning.

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