After a long stay in the hospital, nothing is sweeter than the smell of home.
Unfortunately, we’re not always prepared for the duties that lie ahead – transportation to follow-up appointments, prescription pick-ups, use of medical equipment, nutritious meal planning, and even simple tasks like personal grooming and exercise.
The Comprehensive Hospital Discharge Checklist
To ensure a smooth transition back home, use the following checklist and be sure you or your loved one’s discharge plan is complete.
Note: Some questions may not apply.
Have you received written information about your current condition? Do you understand it?
Have you (and your caregiver) been trained on how to care for your special needs?
Does your caregiver know how to provide care in the case of an emergency (such as CPR, first aid, or other emergency care)?
Do you have prescriptions for all of your medications and services?
Have you been told about community benefits and services (like meals on wheels), and how to get them?
Have you had a discharge-planning meeting?
Did you choose a Medicare certified home health care agency? The hospital’s discharge planning department can be a valuable information source for local Medicare companies and rehabilitation facilities. Often, however, the patient is not sick enough to justify admission to a rehab facility and not strong enough to thrive only on what Medicare visits can accomplish.
Has nursing coverage been confirmed?
Have you identified caregivers who will accompany you home, pick up your prescriptions, prepare your home for your homecoming, shop for fresh and nourishing food, prepare your meals, etc.?
Have you talked about making your home accessible? What type of equipment will you need?
Do you have the supplies and equipment you will need at home? Have you been set up with a durable medical equipment (DME) provider? Has a delivery date been set?
Have you developed an emergency response plan?
Have you contacted public utilities (such as electricity, water, etc.) about your needs? Did you get put on a priority list to restore utilities during emergencies such as a hurricane or tornado?
If you need to evacuate after an emergency, have you identified the closest shelter and have you thought about what you need to bring?
Post-Hospital Discharge Concerns to Consider
Transitioning from the hospital to your home may not be easy.
After reviewing discharge instructions with your doctor, you may realize you have a longer-than-expected recovery time, and you may need additional care from home. Planning ahead will help to avoid any unexpected challenges once you return home.
Families often face this dilemma; feeling inadequately prepared for the realities of their loved one’s transition from hospital to home.
To help in the planning process, here are a few post-hospital concerns that families need to be prepared to monitor and various daily activities patients often need help with:
Transportation: Transportation to and from follow-up and other doctor appointments.
Medication Management: Studies suggest that nearly 40% of patients over 65 suffer from medication errors after leaving the hospital. Coordinating the drop-off and pick-up of medications is necessary. A simple med box prefilled with the proper doses can make a significant difference, but it is not always enough to ensure that the patient consistently remembers to take the right medications at the right time.
Proper Nutrition: Often the patient is not motivated to eat healthy throughout the day and may not have the energy to prepare adequate meals. Even if family and friends provide a nutritious supper, breakfast and lunch can easily get neglected.
Fall Precautions: Falls are a common cause of re-hospitalizations. Practical steps should be taken to minimize fall risks in the home. Also, a personal attendant may be needed to provide standby assistance for a few days.
Emotional Support: Post-hospital days can be discouraging and even depressing. The patient will need social and emotional support to help them stay motivated and engaged in their recovery process.
Personal Care: Simple tasks like dressing, grooming, bathing, and toileting can be a daily challenge. The family will need to ensure that appropriate help is provided.
Wound Care: If a wound is involved, the patient will need skilled and timely wound care. Even if Medicare provides occasional visits, they may not be often enough to properly care for a wound.
Physical Activity Monitoring: Some patients may be inclined to do too much too soon, while others may not be motivated to get up and move around at all. The family needs to know what physical activities are prescribed and help monitor the patient’s activity and rest. Assistance with physical activities/mobility may be necessary as well.
Business Management: Do you need to pay bills or meet other obligations? The patient may need help managing these details as they recover their focus and equilibrium.
Basic Household Chores: During the recovery process, the trash will still need to be emptied, the dishes washed, the laundry cleaned, and so forth. Plans need to be made to meet these needs.
Contact Care Options for Kids for Post-Hospital Discharge Care
It is not uncommon that patients, despite having nearby friends and relatives, may not be able to receive proper care. Friends and relatives may have other obligations such as work or childcare; being able to provide the time and proper care that is needed isn’t always possible.
If family and friends are doing all they can practically do and the loved one still needs a bit more, either in time spent with them or in the level of skilled care that would be best for them, the solution may be searching for a private duty caregiver through a licensed caregiver registry or agency.
While this will require some out of pocket expense, it may be more reasonably priced than you expect and it may save the expense and discomfort of further medical complications and perhaps a repeated hospital stay.
If you know someone who may benefit from private duty care, we invite you to call Care Options for Kids today and request information.
Our Transitions Home Program is designed to smooth the way for a comfortable, happy and safe transition from hospital to home.
We refer loving and competent caregivers and professional nurses to assist you or your loved one – from providing transportation to and from follow-up appointments, to preparing healthy meals at home.