Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa is a program that supports homebound seniors by delivering nutritionally balanced meals right to their doors. But this food delivery program also plays an essential role in preventing hospital readmissions in Contra Costa County.
Hospital readmissions generally reflect poorly on hospitals because they show that adequate care and follow-up care might not have been done. They put unnecessary strain on the hospital equipment, staff, and are hard on patients who are struggling with their health.
But through a comprehensive program designed to support seniors, Meals on Wheels plays a crucial role in preventing hospital readmissions among residents of Contra Costa County.
Understanding Hospital Readmissions in Contra Costa County
Hospital readmission is a patient who is readmitted within 30 days of being initially discharged. Hospital readmission rates in Contra Costa County are on par with national rates and, in some areas, better. These numbers show that Contra Costa County is keeping up with the national average for readmission rates due to the hard work of medical professionals and community support, including organizations like Meals on Wheels.
Several common causes for hospital readmission can be addressed by offering senior patients a little more help. These can include:
- Inadequate Nutrition: Eating balanced meals helps your body heal faster from sickness or injury. When seniors return home from the hospital with limited funds or mobility, they may be unable to afford nutritious meals or even get to the store to buy ingredients. These limitations make it harder for them to recover from a hospital stay and cause their recovery period to be longer. This, in turn, increases their chances of readmission.
- Lack of Social Support and Community Engagement: Family, friends, and community support is essential when a patient is recovering from a hospital stay. Senior patients may have limited mobility for a few weeks after a hospital stay or even permanently. Having a support system to help buy food, cook meals, transport them to doctor’s visits, and even offer social interaction is important to recovery and long-term health.
- Slip and fall Accidents: Once a senior has had a bad fall, the chance of them having another increases significantly. Additionally, as patients age, they heal slower, and their mobility is severely impacted. Once a patient has had a bad fall, they are likely to have another fall and will have to be readmitted to a hospital.
Hospital readmissions are tough on patients, especially older adults already limited in many areas. This process puts financial, mental, and physical strain on patients who already need family and community support in their day-to-day lives.
This puts more strain on these patients’ families, who may have to transport loved ones to and from the hospital and their primary care physician, pick up prescriptions and care for them at home. Readmissions also put a strain on the hospital system. Resources like beds, medical equipment, and personnel are used for patients who shouldn’t have had to come back to the hospital.
To reduce the rate of hospital readmissions and keep the rates down, hospitals and the Contra Costa community need to work together to form effective strategies to help all patients receive the care they need at the hospital and at home.
Meals on Wheels Program in Contra Costa County
The Contra Costa branch of Meal on Wheels is dedicated to supporting our partners with fundraising services. Our partners support homebound seniors who are nutritionally at-risk and cannot prepare nutritious meals for themselves. This meal service helps seniors who need support in their day-to-day lives because of age or health-related limitations. Our partners and hardworking volunteers deliver daily or weekly meals to these seniors’ homes. This program provides food, social contact, and a check-in.
By creating partnerships and collaborations with local organizations, this comprehensive program looks out for vulnerable seniors in all areas of their lives. Local programs and volunteers are the backbone of this organization.
The key objective of Meals on Wheels is to bring nutritionally balanced meals to homebound seniors. But the program offers support that spills over into all aspects of a senior’s life. Nutritional support, social support, and fall prevention are just three ways that Meals of Wheels helps reduce the rate of hospital readmissions in Contra Costa County.
Nutritional Support and Hospital Readmissions
Meeting nutritional needs is incredibly important for everyone, especially seniors with changing dietary needs and health problems. Studies have shown that nutrition plays a vital role in how well patients recover from hospital stays and that addressing nutritional needs head-on can help reduce hospital readmissions. After a hospital stay, seniors should eat balanced meals that meet all their dietary needs.
The body cannot heal properly without the right vitamins and minerals. Seniors experiencing little nutritional support are more likely to be readmitted to a hospital because they will not recover well after their last visit.
By offering senior meal delivery services to seniors in need, Meal on Wheels ensures that these citizens get all the vitamins and minerals they need in prepared meals to recover from hospital visits and stay healthy in general. They even consider dietary restrictions to ensure everyone is cared for properly.
Social Support and Community Engagement
The community’s support is essential for a patient’s physical and mental health. Having a network of friends and family means that there are people who can help the patient in all areas of their lives. They can help cook, clean, and offer transportation to doctor’s visits.
Having social support also means that patients have someone to turn to when there is a problem or need company. Social connections are essential in preventing mental health problems like depression, especially in homebound seniors.
The volunteers who deliver meals to seniors on their route do more than deliver food. They also provide valuable social interaction. When surveyed about how Meals on Wheels deliveries helped them, many seniors said that the social interaction they got from delivery drivers was often the only interaction they would get in a day. Seniors receiving meals and volunteer delivery drivers both reflected on positive experiences. Having someone drop by to check in each day is an invaluable experience for homebound seniors that can alleviate anxiety.
Fall Prevention and Home Safety Assessments
Fall prevention is one of the most vital steps in reducing hospital readmissions. Each fall makes another fall more likely. Falling once causes an injury that takes time to heal and reduces mobility in the future. And for seniors who live alone, a fall can be especially dangerous if they cannot call for help.
When drivers deliver meals to seniors, they also perform a check-in to make sure everything is ok. During this check-in, they might ask the seniors if they need help with anything or if there are any safety or mobility issues that need to be addressed. An intake officer might address these issues when a senior first signs up for a delivery plan as well.
An intake officer or delivery driver may only sometimes be able to help right then, but they can pass messages along or point the senior in the right direction to get the help they need. Ensuring a senior’s house is as safe as possible helps prevent falls and readmissions to the hospital.
Meals on Wheels of Contra Costa
Meals on Wheels is proud to be helping the Contra Costa community by supporting seniors and helping to reduce hospital readmission rates. Meals on Wheels offers meals that support good nutrition that battle senior hunger and allow previously hospitalized seniors to recover faster. The check-ins performed by volunteer drivers also provide social interactions that give seniors the community support they need to thrive. And, of course, check-ins help ensure that seniors are safe in their own homes and prevent falls.
All of these together reduce the hospital readmission rates in Contra Costa County. But this is only possible with the support of the community. Donations and volunteers allow Meals on Wheels to do what they do. Consider supporting the seniors in your area by donating or volunteering in your free time. Your contribution could make a real difference in the life of seniors in your neighborhood.
Community-based initiatives are so important in creating better healthcare outcomes. We can create a lot of fundamental changes when a whole community works together. With your help, Meals on Wheels can transform the lives of seniors and reduce the hospital readmission rates in Contra Costa County.