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Healthcare often focuses on providing care for specific illnesses or injuries in an episodic way. This short-term care might not be adequate to address ongoing health problems or changes that occur in patients who have a chronic illness. A continuum of care in nursing helps ensure that patients receive proper care as their health situation changes over time. Learning more about this kind of care and why it’s important can help you decide if this is an area you would like to focus on in your nursing career. Consider the following information about continuum care when setting your career goals.

What Is Continuum of Care?

Continuum of care refers to a patient-centered care system that can span several years in a patient’s life. In some cases, this kind of care can span a patient’s entire lifetime. This type of care ensures that patients have the right kind of care for different medical conditions or issues that occur over a span of years. For patients with chronic conditions, continuum care ensures that they continue receiving treatment to manage symptoms or have treatment plans adjusted as necessary.

Continuum of care in nursing can cover many services in healthcare, including acute care for injuries and illnesses, health and wellness programs, mental health, home care, and more. Patients who have a continuum of care receive the specific services they need based on their medical history and current medical issues. This type of care also covers transitions of care as patients get older or experience different health issues. Nurses who provide a continuum of care track patients over the course of several years or their lifetime.

Continuum of Care Examples

A continuum of care can be used for different integrating mechanisms in the healthcare field. These mechanisms have a need for continuing care to ensure that patients are receiving proper care over time. Examples of mechanisms that use continuum care include case management services. These services provide care for patients as they transition to different levels of care. For example, a patient might need more advanced care for a chronic condition or discharge planning as they leave the hospital after receiving treatment.

Disease management programs are another example of continuum care. These programs provide healthcare services for patients who have chronic conditions, such as kidney disease, diabetes, or heart failure. Nurses who provide continuing care ensure that these patients have access to services and resources to help them manage their condition.

Community-based services, such as telemedicine or home healthcare, are also an example of continuing care. These services help ensure that patients receive prompt care or routine care as needed, especially those in more remote locations or underserved communities.

Health information systems are another example of continuum care. Nurses who work with health information systems can provide valuable data to create and maintain patient-centered systems. These information systems can keep track of patients’ health over the years for more effective healthcare. Nurses can provide up-to-date data on patients that can help improve these systems.

Why Is This So Important?

Continuum care in nursing helps overcome the disadvantages of episodic care, which include avoidable complications and missing necessary treatment or appointments. When continuing care is used, patients can experience better outcomes and an improved quality of life overall. Nurses play a vital role in providing this kind of care for patients. Continuing care might involve helping patients adjust to needing long-term care for a chronic condition or for problems that develop due to aging.

Continuing care can help patients receive guidance on their health and well-being over the years. Nurses who provide this kind of care can help patients understand the importance of taking care of their health on an everyday basis in order to lower the risk of major health issues and complications. This can help lower healthcare costs and boost outcomes for patients, including those with chronic health conditions.

The Importance of Nurses with Continuum of Care

A continuum of care can include different kinds of healthcare professionals, however, nurses are often in the best position to provide this kind of care due to their interactions with patients and the responsibilities they have in providing care. Nurses can work as a team or on their own, depending on patient needs, to coordinate transitional care plans and handle other tasks involved with a continuum of care. For example, nurses with a specialization in case management can make sure patients have a follow-up visit scheduled.

Nurses can help patients coordinate care on an ongoing basis that involves specialists, primary care physicians, and other healthcare professionals. They can also include a patient’s family members in continuum care, such as providing information on administering medicine for seniors who might be unable to do this on their own. Making sure families have the information needed to help their loved one can be a valuable part of continuing care.

How an Advanced Nursing Degree Can Help

Having an advanced nursing degree, such as a Master of Science in Nursing with a specialty in case management, can help nurses thrive in continuum care. Advanced degrees provide a wider range of skills and more in-depth knowledge that is needed for this kind of care. Nurses who specialize in case management can expect to learn the skills needed for effectively managing the healthcare needs of different patients over the course of several years or decades. Those who pursue an advanced degree can gain the latest knowledge that allows them to provide higher quality care, even in more challenging cases, such as a patient with multiple health problems. Advanced degrees can also make it easier for nurses to stand out when applying for jobs involving continuing care.

If you’re interested in focusing on continuum care in nursing as part of your career, please contact American Sentinel College of Nursing and Health Science at Post University for more information on our degree programs. Our advanced degree programs include a Master of Science in Nursing Case Management Specialization. We can help you develop the skills needed for this kind of nursing career.


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