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On average, patients are spending less time in hospitals than ever before. With an ageing population and increasing pressures on the healthcare system this trend is expected to continue. We had the chance to speak to Glenda Kerridge, representing the Australian Association of Social Workers about effective elements in hospital discharge planning from a social work perspective.
What are the key elements to a successful hospital discharge?
Glenda Kerridge: The key elements to a successful discharge plan from a social work perspective are to have a thorough psychosocial assessment for the patient. It is important to understand what their wishes are, to have consulted with all the other members of the team, to have linked in with appropriate services and to have carefully looked at issues of risk. We need to be sure to consult with the patient and their family in the discharge planning process to ensure best engagement. Health seems to be increasingly risk averse and as a social worker I would always like to remind others that clients still have a right to self-determination. More restrictive measures should be sought out only as a last resort.
What do you see as the main challenges facing people in your job role over the next 12 months?
Glenda Kerridge: The main challenges in discharge planning are likely to continue because of the increasingly ageing population and the stretched health dollar. This trend has promoted innovative new models of care, which exist alongside increased pressure on hospital flow and access. The ambulatory field in particular is expanding rapidly. Increased resources are also directed into maintaining people in their own homes. We need to be sure we are looking for best outcomes for our patients as well as our health services. It is an exciting opportunity to explore new models.