Not too long ago, I had lunch with a friend of mine that also happened to be a sponsor of one of my residents. She is also my neighbor, but I digress. As we sipped sweet tea, I asked her what was one thing that she wished she knew more about before she moved her Dad into assisted living. Here are a couple useful tips regarding doctor visits that she suggested that will make life easier if you are considering or have made the transition to an assisted living community.
Prep Doctor Visit Steps
Not only do assisted living communities offer scheduling and transportation to appointments for our residents…but we also provide useful tools for communication. We all know that for every physician on the planet they all typically want us to bring our list of meds with us. But here are some things that our staff will provide if you (or if we) are taking your family member to the doctor:
- A current list of medication for all residents for doctor’s appointments (typically we can make a copy of their medication record from that day that ensures they have the most current info available)
- Physician Communication Form (this form is an excellent tool where the doctor can detail their findings and diagnosis information as well as prescriptions or requests for follow-ups etc. This helps provide a written outline of the doctor visit so that the sponsor and resident can communicate fully the needs the resident may require. This form is typically stapled to the copy of the resident’s medication record and given to the sponsor/staff that will be going with the resident prior to the appointment. Upon return to the community following the appointment, the sponsor can just give this to the Administrator or designee. If a staff member took the resident to the appointment, they will then call the sponsor to provide the details from the appointment. This is another reason that this tool is so useful.)
We also can help assist by providing documented weights and other health information that a physician may request. Health information is protected per HIPPA guidelines.
Hopefully this prep will help make doctor visits less daunting. As my friend explained, “when you have been the sole caregiver for an aging parent or loved one, you know them probably better than anyone. But by allowing the staff at the assisted living to join forces with the resident, the sponsor and the physician…we become a team”. This is an excellent analogy! This TEAM is always looking out for the resident. And the vital key is communication. Another important thing that you need to know is that the medications should be in unit dose packaging if they will require staff assistance. So just running a prescription to the pharmacy and picking up a bottle is NOT the way to go. The ADPH rules and regulations are in place to protect. So be sure to get the prescription to the administrator or contact them if you have any questions. This will ensure that you or the staff have them filled properly and that the staff have the proper documentation for the resident chart. Following these simple suggestions can make life easier for you, the staff at the assisted living and most importantly the resident.