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What Is Transitional Care?

By Patti Kate
Updated May 17, 2024
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The term transitional care generally refers to the process a patient must undergo as he enters a new phase of treatment and care. Transitional care often involves the perpetuation of necessary treatment or intervention when being relocated from a hospital to a nursing home, hospice, or private home. This process may involve treatment in a designated area or wing of a hospital or a special facility. Patients who need ongoing post-operative care during their convalescence often choose transitional care.

Planning for transitional care often begins in the hospital, before the patient is discharged. Organizing an effective strategy is something physicians and nurses often do, to ensure the patient receives continual care once he is released. As part of a traditional care service, a licensed nurse may visit the home or hospice where a patient will continue to convalesce. In many cases, social workers will work with medical professionals to assist in the transitional care of patients. Transitional care management in geriatrics may also involve nursing home placement.

Short-term care may also be provided at a transitional facility on a temporary basis. These facilities typically care for patients who are unable to return home for a period of approximately 10-21 days. Many patients receive care at such a facility after surgery. Stroke victims may also be released to this type of facility for a convalescent period.

Recovery centers are also designed for patients receiving chemotherapy cancer treatment. This typically requires a brief stay of approximately 10 days to two weeks. Care transition for cancer patients may be designed for adults and children.

Parents and caregivers of elderly patients often take on the responsibilities of transitional care. Parents will often care for a young child who has been released from the hospital and requires convalescence at home. Although the caregivers are responsible for daily care and assistance as needed, they often refer to medical professionals for advice on treatment and management. In many cases, care transition may be difficult for both the patient and the caregiver.

Not every transitional care program is designed for patients requiring continuous medical attention at home. Another type of care transition is known as transitional child care. Many working parents need to place their children in day care, but cannot afford such a service. Transitional child care is a service that helps provide day care to low-income families that are eligible.

WiseGeek is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.

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