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Up Close and Personal — The Irreplaceable Value of Being There

Residential in the Real World

For Lisa, a Residential Home Health Occupational Therapist, seeing her patient’s pain in person helped her recognize that something was not right.Remote health care has been possible since the invention of long-distance communication. Patients can reach out to experts in faraway locations; physicians and clinicians can consult with each other via telephone, fax, email, and even video chat. A truly impressive scope of care can be accomplished from afar: tracking progress, discussing symptoms, and adjusting treatments.

But even with these advances, there are aspects of in-person care that cannot always be replicated. For one Residential Home Health patient, it took a home visit to recognize that her pain symptoms were not part of the normal course of recovery, and were instead signaling that something was awry. Read on to discover how occupational therapist Lisa’s skillful assessment, clinical expertise, and persistent communication served to supplement and inform the patient’s other care providers, calling attention to an underlying problem.

Ready to Recover at Home

The patient had suffered a fall, which led to an emergency department visit and surgery to repair torn tissue in her knee. After initial recovery and treatment for fall-related pain in her shoulder and knee, the patient was discharged to an assisted living facility for several days more. She then transitioned home and within 24 hours began care with Residential Home Health, with an initial nurse visit and physical therapy evaluation. At the conclusion of each visit, the patient’s Residential Home Health Care Team members sent updates about her condition to her primary care physician.

A Difference of Opinion

When Lisa made her initial occupational therapy evaluation, although the patient’s primary diagnosis targeted the shoulder and knee, her attention quickly turned to the left hip. For some reason, the hip was causing the patient unbearable pain. Although Lisa tried to proceed with the evaluation, the patient had difficulty executing all the movements they attempted.

Lisa’s clinical instincts told her that the patient might have a hip fracture, so she followed up her evaluation with a phone call to the patient’s doctor. The physician was confident that this hip pain had been adequately addressed during the emergency department visit, and advised Lisa to help keep the patient comfortable and wait for the pain medication to begin working. In light of the doctor’s recommendation, Lisa decided to wait a week before trying to resume therapy.

Not Adding Up

When Lisa returned for her next scheduled visit, she was startled to find her patient still in unrelenting pain, with no improvement around the hip area. Digging deeper, she started asking questions to get a better handle of the situation. When asked whether a follow-up visit had been scheduled with the orthopedic surgeon, the patient’s son said that the assisted living facility was supposed to make the arrangements — but ultimately, no appointment had been made. Lisa recognized that based on the pain and limited movement, the patient’s surgeon needed to see and assess her in person. She made the call while still in the patient’s home and arranged for the earliest available appointment, in order to address this debilitating pain as soon as possible.

At the patient’s follow-up appointment two days later, her orthopedic surgeon indeed discovered a left hip fracture, and surgery was scheduled for the same day. Thanks to Lisa’s unique vantage point, her patient’s pain was promptly and substantially lessened. The relieved patient was finally set to recover, rehabilitate, and eventually resume care in the comfort of home with Lisa and the rest of her Residential Home Health Care Team.

No matter what your health challenge may be, Residential Home Health offers a range of services to help you work toward your health goals safely at home. Call (888)930-WELL (9355) to discuss your specific situation with a Home Care Specialist today, or click the link below to take our 60-second, 15-question Home Care Assessment.