Navigating accommodation referrals for patients and carers: Social Workers and Nurses
MediStays is a nationwide service assisting patients, carers and healthcare staff to book trusted accommodation near hospitals. We provide specialist support across hospital visit and hospital discharge related stays. Our expert team customise their approach for every situation. This connects Australians and their families with the accommodation options to access the best medical care they deserve.
MediStays makes planning complex care easier. Our trusted and credible service is available to healthcare and government referrers across Australia. We find a safe, comfortable place for your patients and their loved ones to stay. As a result, referrers can focus on other important aspects of care.
We also pride ourselves on the provision of excellent customer service. All stakeholders in the MediStays’ community are very important to us. This includes: patients and carers, healthcare referrers and accommodation suppliers.
And it’s our Care Navigators who are the jewels in the MediStays crown!
What is a MediStays Care Navigator?
Our Care Navigators are here to ensure our guests have the best experience possible.
They are the embodiment of MediStays’ values:
MediStays’ co-founder and Managing Director, Dr Sarah Everitt, is a healthcare professional (BMedRad, PhD). Her specialisation is in radiation therapy and clinical research. Sarah has a wealth of experience working with people on a health and medical journey. And she of course utilised this perspective in building MediStays.
At MediStays, we focus and invest in the recruitment of our Care Navigators. Our team searches for unique and values driven individuals. So we look for people motivated to make an energetic and passionate contribution.
Ensuring potential candidates align with MediStays’ values is key to our hiring process. Many also bring lived experience of disability or a health journey. And they are all driven by the opportunity to make a positive difference to people’s lives.
Sarah and our team oversee the onboarding of all MediStays Care Navigator recruits. The core emphasis is on understanding Australia’s health and medical services. So we ensure they receive extensive training, education and guidance.
This comprehensive training and understanding encompasses all aspects of hospital discharge accommodation referrals. And the result? A team of Care Navigators who have deep insights into the accommodation needs of our guests.
This includes (but not limited to):
- The needs of rural and remote patients.
- Those with serious medical illnesses.
- Those with new or lifelong disabilities.
- Available funding frameworks (such as PATS).
Without our Care Navigators contribution, we wouldn’t be able to uphold the level of quality care that we do.
Meet our Care Navigator, Noele
Now we are glad to introduce you to Noele, one of our wonderful Care Navigators.
Noele joined the MediStays Care Navigator team during 2021 after meeting our Managing Director Sarah.
Sarah says that:
“Noele is an incredible woman, with a rich background and life experience. Driven by her values, she provides outstanding support. This includes exceptional service for patients, carers and our referrers”.
Before the COVID pandemic, Noele operated her own successful travel company. So she brings with her an extensive travel background. Which also includes a deep understanding of the accommodation industry.
Noele incorporates this skillset as part of her Care Navigator role. She develops important professional relationships with our property partners. This credibility helps us achieve positive outcomes for guests.
Noele’s service integrates tourism expertise, health and disability training, and her personal experiences. The impact of this? Bringing the ideal blend of passion, knowledge, empathy and kindness to the role. This is exactly what makes our MediStays Care Navigators so important.
Noele says that:
“we are a very experienced team. Not only with professional expertise in the accommodation, health, and disability sectors. But, also some lived experience. From this lived experience, we have a better understanding of the people we support. We then gain greater insight into their needs and concerns.”
How can MediStays’ Care Navigators help?
Our Care Navigators are here to support people on a health journey.
Their core role is supporting referrers and medical travellers. This allows everyone to navigate accommodation, booking the best for each unique situation.
This can include complex navigation of:
- Several funding streams, including Patient Assisted Travel Schemes, charitable and private funding.
- Hospital discharge referrals to MediStays hospital ‘alternative’ accommodation.
- Engagement with multidisciplinary teams.
- Properties to accommodate guests with complex medical, accessibility and care requirements.
Our Care Navigators are caring and professional. They understand that everyday tasks can become a burden during challenging times. So, they take into account the stressful and uncertain nature of medical travel.
Other fantastic work in our community is also integrated by our Care Navigators. This involves the effort of carers, including family members and visiting nursing staff.
“We provide not only accommodation expertise, but reassurance and guidance. This could be with the patient, their social worker or nurse.
Our community rely on us to make all the arrangements. And always in a professional manner, with very high levels of attention to detail.”
– Noele (MediStays’ Care Navigator)
A day in the life of a MediStays’ Care Navigator
The key point of difference in the MediStays model is its health and medical background. And the same is true for our Care Navigators.
Of course they take care of accommodation and practical aspects of travel. But in doing so, incorporating the healthcare perspective of each guest’s treatment journey.
So, what does this look like in practice? Here are some key categories and their tasks that our Care Navigators manage on a day-to-day basis:
Booking Suitable Accommodation
Our Care Navigators’ goal is to ensure guests have the best medical stay possible. Part of that is connecting our community with the right information. Across hospital and healthcare, this includes resources for both referrers and medical travellers.
They are the first point-of-contact for:
- General enquiries: Our Care Navigators respond to all accommodation enquiries. They ensure everyone has reliable recommendations of next steps for their upcoming journey.
- Triaging enquiries: Each referrer or support provider enquiry connects with specialised support. In doing so, the Care Navigator incorporates patient, carer and family bookings.
- Recommendations: Listening to guests’ needs is key to our Care Navigator service. They curate the best options for each situation. Incorporating location, budget, facilities and accessibility features achieves this.
- Making Bookings: Our Care Navigators are experts at doing the leg work. First they establish individual guest requirements (e.g. accessibility features). Next they communicate requirements with our accommodation partners and confirm booking conditions. This process supports a seamless experience for guests and the onsite property team.
- Adjustments & Changes: Life happens even with the best laid plans. So, things may change during a guest’s stay. Our valuable Care Navigators will understand and confirm booking changes as needed. This includes liaising between the guest, their referrers and the accommodation property. Our process ensures clear communication and a smooth experience for the guest.
Care Navigator Noele adds that:
“Medical travel can be uncertain. Guests are often concerned about having to reduce or extend their stay.
We reassure guests we can make these changes for them, no problem. This is important when a guest is unwell. We want to relieve their partner of the responsibility for adjusting bookings.
Also, elderly people are often concerned with technology. So, we ensure guests and their spouses know they can call us and we will make the arrangements for them.”
Support Navigating Funding
Accommodation needs and travel logistics are not all there is to medical travel. A large part of a stay is confirming funding for the journey. There can be many costs involved, including travel, accommodation and food. Sometimes, even appointments and treatments need funding or applications.
Navigating funding eligibility can be challenging on its own. Individuals must understand what it covers, requires, and then execute those applications. Add to that, organising the many aspects of the medical trip while feeling unwell or stressed.
This financial burden is often known as “financial toxicity” in the healthcare space. So, relieving this is an important part of MediStays support in guests’ journeys.
Our Care Navigators are experts in what funding may be accessible for any given scenario. And MediStays is a nationwide organisation. So, we have insights into funding across every State and Territory jurisdiction. Our Care Navigators utilise this to support referrers, patients and their loved ones. Whatever a guest’s situation, we help to get the best possible experience available to them.
Our Care Navigators can support funding opportunities for:
- Financial Assistance: Australia offers several opportunities for financial assistance towards medical travel. Our Care Navigators are experts with all relevant options across Australia. This encompasses State and Territory PATS and charitable funding.
- Accommodation Discounts: Some guests may be ineligible for government financial assistance. Yet, MediStays advocates for patients and carers on behalf of our community. Through this, we are able to offer discounted accommodation rates. Our Care Navigators ensure all patients and carers have precise information and support.
- Participants of the NDIS: MedisStays also specialises in NDIS quotations and service agreements. Our Care Navigators guide referrers through this process. And their support assures a seamless hospital discharge.
As you can see, our Care Navigators’ have a comprehensive knowledge of health and medical travel. This takes them far beyond the role of ‘travel agent’ or ‘concierge’. Their presence takes our services to the next level for patients and their referrers.
Driven to Care: Why Our Care Navigators Go the Extra Mile
Our team works hard and stays focused. It brings rewards each day. Seeing the positive difference we make both humbles and propels us.
So, MediStays cultivates our workplace to make a positive difference to medical travel. We support each staff member to do this for our community through their role.
What motivates and inspires Noele in her work as a Care Navigator?
“We do make a difference with every person we come into contact with.
In general, people who need the services of Medistays are in some way vulnerable. They are also often anxious, for many reasons. This can includi illness, an unexpected life situation, or ongoing incapacity” Noele says.
It’s often the little things in life that make the biggest difference. Here are some of the ‘little things’ Noele does for guests and supporters that tend to have a big impact:
“I listen to them. Guests are often anxious due to medical appointments on the horizon.
I reassure them that we can make all the arrangements on their behalf, they do not have to worry. They can instead focus on the other issues they are dealing with.
The main thing is to listen, act and reassure. To take the pressure off guests” says Noele.
Progressing Lives Alongside Care Networks
Ensuring the best experience: patient accommodation referrals
Our Care Navigators strive to make referring patients to MediStays a seamless process. We want to make referrers jobs as easy as possible. This starts as soon as we receive a completed Referral Form. Our Care Navigators then have a base to start searching for accommodation options.
Our Care Navigators do the legwork for referrers in three key ways:
- Identify and present the properties best suited to the guest’s needs, as shared by their referrer.
- Sharing recommendations with the referrer and/or patient and support network. This means options are available, and suit their guests needs. Meeting needs starts with accessibility and safety – always the number one priority.
- Then we incorporate other requirements and preferences. This can include location, carers needs and equipment deliveries.
The above process saves the referrer time and energy. They no longer need to search endless options for suitability, availability etc.
Complex Hospital Discharge Referrals
Our team of General and Specialist Care Navigators go beyond standard enquiries. Working together, they provide the best solutions possible for complex hospital discharge referrals.
These complex hospital discharges can need a team of up to ten people in collaboration.
This includes not only the MediStays team, but also a hospital team of:
- Occupational therapists
- Social workers
- Nursing and medical staff
Alongside, of course, the most important people – guests and their loved ones.
From small to big tasks, our Care Navigators’ have outstanding attention to detail. This is important from documenting guest requirements, to preparing quotations and service agreements. And it contributes to the successful execution of complex scenarios.
MediStays is adaptable in the choices we offer. Shower and toilet chairs are ready to go at most accommodation options (when required).
We also have accessibility processes in place for hospital discharge requirements. In this scenario, we convert fully accessible properties (Access 3) into hospital equivalents.
Here’s how MediStays does this:
Step 1: We assess a guest’s individual requirements. This involves the guest and/or their extended team of referrers, OT, nursing and social work staff.
Step 2: Using these criteria, we recommend the most suitable fully accessible properties (Access 3).
Step 3: With the property booked, we store the standard furniture.
Step 4: We bring in assistive technology. This includes a specialised bed and mattress, hoist, commode and/or shower trolley
Step 5: Following guest arrival, MediStays is the central contact for all parties. This ensures accommodation support for the guest and carers during their stay.
Shower hoists are often used to move a patient for bathing, in a safe and comfortable way. Other patients can only lie horizontally, or are connected to equipment. If so, a shower trolley will replace a hoist.
MediStays’ provides for guests requiring this level of care during their stay. Our team ensures the property design supports the guests unique situation. And this includes the requirements of the extended care team. By also considering family and professional carers, we can ensure a better experience.
This level of individualised care wouldn’t be possible without MediStays’ wonderful Care Navigators. Their dedicated contribution to our services provides comprehensive support to all guests. And especially those with complex situations. Rural and regional Australians can select accessible accommodation for hospital discharge, all from home.
MediStays also works with participants of the NDIS and their referrers. This includes participants with hospital requirements. Here, our Care Navigators can provide support across both medical and disability needs.
How to Best Utilise Our Care Navigators Through Referrals:
MediStays’ Care Navigators strive to ensure the best possible experience for the guest. This means right from referral, through to arriving back home. Our Care Navigators work best upon receiving comprehensive details of a guest’s situation. This understanding translates to the best recommendations for each guest’s needs.
Here are our Care Navigators *Top Tips* for a seamless referral:
- Knowledge is key: The best start we can get is a completed referral form. This can include as much detail as possible and any specific needs.
- If a guest uses a walker or wheelchair: Safe navigation for guests with mobility needs is our top priority. Providing details on the wheelchair width and model is ideal. This ensures we only recommend properties with optimal door widths.
- For guests cared for by nursing staff or support workers: It’s helpful to know if carers will be staying with the guest overnight. And if so, whether they need bedding (passive overnight support) is important. Then, recommendations will only include options with suitable bedding configurations.
- Many guests have service animals or therapy pets: There are many pet friendly options available. So we can adjust our recommendations to suit. Providing us with details about the pet and its role is very helpful.
Are you a referrer or Social Worker supporting patients that need medical stays? We’re here to support you with the legwork of booking medical accommodation. So you can focus on supporting your patients, instead.
MediStays and our Care Navigators are here to assist all referrals. Our goal is to provide the most beneficial and seamless experience possible. If you wish to learn more about our referral process or make an enquiry, see our Services page.