The mayors of the municipalities of upper Gorenjska discussed the pressing issue of difficult-to-discharge patients from the Jesenice General Hospital at their regular coordination meeting. Homes for the elderly are fully occupied, and the waiting time for admission is very long.
The Jesenice General Hospital stated that in 2001 they employed the first social worker, who tried to connect all stakeholders in helping the elderly within the framework of healthcare, social care and the primary family. Because the needs are increasing, today the hospital has two social workers, and in addition, medical treatment coordinators provide help, who make sure that when patients have finished their hospital treatment, they are properly cared for in home care or in one of the social welfare institutions.
In doing so, they face a number of challenges. Relatives and society in general believe that patients who are more difficult to discharge, who are usually older, will be directly placed in institutional care after treatment in the hospital. However, nursing homes are fully occupied and waiting times for admission are very long. Due to staff shortages, some homes are even closed for receptions. People under the age of 65 are not even entitled to accommodation in a nursing home.
When placement in a home is not possible, relatives are offered help at home. However, the waiting times for providing help at home are also too long, and the first visit by a social worker can take several months. In addition, the social worker only provides care, not therapy. The price and availability of help at home, however, strongly depend on the municipality of permanent residence. In the Jesenice hospital, they note that they have a very good support network established in Bohinj and the municipalities covered by the Jesenice home for the elderly.
They note that only when the patient is hospitalized does the regulation of certain rights begin, which should have been regulated earlier. “Timely preparation for old age would certainly be much kinder and less stressful than discussing appropriate help and care only when additional obstacles such as illness or bereavement beset us.,” the hospital pointed out, adding that the responsibility for arranging care after discharge is transferred to the institutions.
“According to society’s opinion, as a hospital, we are obliged to keep the patient until he has been arranged for appropriate care at home or placement in institutional care, which is impossible to do nowadays“, they warned. By prolonging the hospitalization of such patients, they lose much-needed space for the treatment of acute diseases.
Strengthening of help at home
Therefore, the hospital proposes to strengthen help at home, not only by increasing the number of social workers, who are also in short supply, but also by hiring nurses, physiotherapists and occupational therapists. The Act on long-term care provides for this, but these services are needed immediately, the hospital warned.
They believe that citizens also need more information about what the municipality or various associations offer them and who they can turn to in certain situations. Assistance to the elderly in regulating their rights could also be offered in social work centers and health centers. Above all, the general public should be talked about and made aware of old age, and it should be ensured that people prepare for it, according to the Jeseniš hospital.
The mayors of the municipalities of Upper Gorenjska agreed at the coordination meeting that they will pay more attention to this topic in the future and will do their best to inform the citizens about the necessary steps and contacts upon the patient’s discharge, which will be of great help to the patient, family members and the hospital.