Care Transitions/Linkages

Support safe care transitions and organizational linkages

  • You can reduce patients’ suicide risk by ensuring that they have an uninterrupted transition of care and by facilitating the exchange of information among the various individuals and organizations that contribute to their care.
  • Individuals at risk for suicide and their support networks (e.g., families) must also be part of the communication process.
  • Tools and practices that support continuity of care include formal referral protocols, interagency agreements, cross-training, follow-up contacts, rapid referrals, and patient and family education.

Provider actions

  • Be familiar with local crisis response options where the patient is located. This could include a local Community Mental Health crisis team; hospital-based crisis response, walk-in crisis services, and the nearest emergency department.
  • If your client is hospitalized, outreach to the social worker on the unit to set up an appointment upon discharge. Understand that people’s suicide death rate is 300 times higher than the general population in the first week after they are discharged from an inpatient psychiatric unit.
  • People are at the highest risk just after discharge, so get your client in as soon as you can after discharge and consider providing outreach calls if you don’t get them in right away.

Actions in practice

  • Obtain release of information to coordinate care with your client’s primary care provider and psychiatrist and work as a virtual care team. Reach out to the care team for coordination when your client is transitioning care from outpatient to inpatient.
  • Understand the local processes for involuntary commitment; what paperwork is needed, where is it sent, etc.
  • Try to talk to your client when they are in the inpatient setting to reassure them that you are there for them upon discharge. Try for a warm handoff from the inpatient unit.

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