Northwestern Medical Center will soon implement a Care Partner Program developed by the Eastern US Quality Improvement Collaborative (EQIC). NMC’s commitment to the program demonstrates strong focus on reducing readmissions by engaging the patient and care partner in treatment to enhance patient care.
Implementing this framework means that every admitted patient will have a “Care Partner” documented in the patient’s contact list, and that documentation will go with them when they move to other settings.
What is a Care Partner?
A Care Partner is chosen by the patient to help the patient during and after their hospital stay. The Care Partner will help the healthcare team better understand the patient’s needs and preferences. The Care Partner should be involved in the in-hospital care, as well as helping with the patients’ needs at home.
Who can be a Care Partner?
Care partners can be family members, friends, neighbors or paid assistants. The care partner should be available to support the patient both during and after the hospital stay.
What can I do as a Care Partner?
Care Partners help staff understand the patient’s care preferences and goals. This information is critical to helping staff understand what is important to the patient in their everyday life. To do this, Care Partners may want to participate in daily rounds to share their care preferences and goals, shape the plan of care and inform the team of any issues they should take into consideration.
During the rounds, please feel free to:
- take notes;
- ask questions; and
- let the team know of anything that is concerning or confusing to you or the patient.
If you are not able to attend the rounds, please tell the staff how to reach you to tell you the care plan and give you an opportunity to ask questions, e.g., the team could connect with you via phone, or on the patient’s whiteboard.
Care Partner Help During the Hospital Stay
Care Partners can help the patient by reinforcing instructions that were provided regarding the patient’s care, looking for specific signs and symptoms related to the patient’s disease/diagnosis that should be reported to the medical team, preparing the patient for discharge and, most importantly, preparing for a smooth transition to managing the patient’s care at home.
The care team will tell Care Partners what to look for and who to talk to if there are concerns, including after the patient goes home.
The hospital team may ask you to assist with certain care or coordination tasks for the patient. If any help is needed, the hospital staff will teach you and the patient how to do the task and ensure that you’re both fully comfortable with everything before leaving the hospital.
Depending on the patient’s needs, tasks may include:
- making and getting to appointments for follow-up care;
- remembering how and when to take medication;
- performing simple wound care and dressing changes;
- understanding dietary considerations to stay well post discharge;
- troubleshooting events, problems or setbacks; or
- coordinating needed services like a visiting nurse, medical equipment or other help.