It’s all about planning for a safe and coordinated discharge. Being admitted to a hospital can be a life-changing event. Leaving the hospital and being discharged can be as scary. Discharge should operate like a well-oiled machine, sadly, it is not. Caregivers can be left with a lot of questions about what to do after returning home.
Here are the three steps you can use as a guide to help caregivers and their loved ones feel prepared for the smoothest possible transition back home.
1. Make a Post-Discharge Care Plan
Ask the hospital staff (social workers, nurses, and physicians) for help in developing a post-discharge care plan. Lay out the required care, like new dietary restrictions, special equipment, follow-up care including nursing, in-home care or therapies, any changes in the patient’s care needs and functioning, and what support the caregiver needs to provide the new level of care. Please reconcile their medications (compare a complete medication list from before the hospitalization with the new list at discharge).
This is a great resource: Hospital Discharge Planning: A Guide for Families and Caregivers and its cited sources.)
2. Schedule Follow-Up Visits
A post discharge medical follow-up is critical to monitor a patient’s progress, adjust care activities or medications, and reduce the risk of re-hospitalization. Ideally, they should be scheduled with your primary care doctor at the time of discharge.
3. Ask Questions
For many, becoming a caregiver is out of the scope of practice and or line of duty. It can be a very scary time for both the caregiver and the patient. Caring for someone you love is different than being the caregiver for someone you love. Don’t hesitate to ask nurses, doctors, and others involved in discharge care about any hesitations or concerns that you may have. In fact, you may find that asking questions helps hospital staff link you to resources or training that can help with the post-discharge care process.
This article has been reviewed by a Medical Doctor, Dr. Robert Graham, for additional accuracy.