Elevating Surgical Recovery: The Crucial Role of Residential Respite Care in Supporting Seniors

Wednesday, 13 December, 2023

Elevating Surgical Recovery: The Crucial Role of Residential Respite Care in Supporting Seniors

If you have senior patients recovering from surgery, sending them home to recover can be concerning. While they’re ready to leave hospital, they may still need some extra care, or their family might not be equipped to offer the level of care required, for the period of time they need it.

That’s where respite care can serve as a lifeline. Respite care within an aged care setting can offer that essential support to convalescing patients, and it can also provide much-needed rest and relief for caregivers.

Also operating as a ‘test-run’ for more permanent aged-care options, respite care can be a useful option for your patients to consider if they have surgery coming up, and it can help to plan ahead. If your patient is eligible for a Home Care Package, they can also usually access 63 days of respite care through My Aged Care.

“We often have recovering patients coming to us after they’ve had surgery,” explains Nithin Shetty, Facility Manager at TriCare Williams Landing. “Many will be people who need more intense care and supervision than they can receive at home.

“It’s wonderful to see the visible transformation in our residents — the way they regain their strength, interact with others, and even appreciate this new phase of life as they’re supported through their recovery,” says Nithin.

The key to effective respite care is a dedicated and professional support network: one that operates around the clock to ensure patients receive continuous care in that post-surgery phase. The care can be tailored from basic assistance with daily activities to more complex nursing and medical attention.

For senior patients and their families who may be considering a more permanent move into an aged care residence, respite care offers a supportive ‘try before you buy’ approach.

The popularity of respite care as a way to smooth the transition to permanent care is growing, with The Australian Institute of Health and Welfare reporting that 64% of those entering permanent care have tried a respite service first (from their most recent data from 2019–20). This is a significant increase from just 26% ten years earlier. And of those who tried respite care, over half (52%) went on to enter permanent care on the same day they exited respite care.

This gentle introduction can give people insight into the day-to-day realities of aged care, enabling them to make confident decisions about their future living arrangements.

“We are often thanked by our residents’ families and caregivers for allowing patients to see how their life could be in aged care — that it doesn’t have to be an unknown or mysterious proposition,” says Nithin. “And it gives caregivers the time and space to care for their loved ones, while also having the freedom to live their own lives.”

Having a Home Care Package in place also means patients can have the required support post-surgery without the unnecessary financial burden.

While respite care can provide a much-needed interim solution or contingency plan when it’s most needed, it can also be considered as a stepping stone towards a more comprehensive, accommodating, and seamless transition into aged care if the need arises. It’s an opportunity to help patients adjust with the least resistance possible while providing them the highest level of care.

Healthcare professionals play a pivotal role in guiding patients towards the best decisions for their health. Incorporating respite care into patient recovery plans can make a world of difference in patient outcomes, providing them with options beyond managing on their own or relying solely on family and caregivers. Respite care not only assures patients of professional care but also grants them the time and space to adjust, fostering a smoother recovery process.

Image credit: iStock.com/PeopleImages

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