Updated: Mar 5
***Disclaimer: This article is for informational purposes only and does not provide medical, legal, or health advice and is not a substitute for mental health services
If you are in hospital, it can be hard to cope, let alone focus on key tasks needed to help your journey proceed as smoothly as possible. There are a range of things you may want to keep in mind along the way:
1. Learn about the hospital's visitation policy
In this current climate of the pandemic, visitation rules are constantly in flux and hard to predict. That being said, they usually have a rule where there is a primary visitor and a secondary or alternate visitor. This is a very important decision and needs to be take seriously, especially as it may be hard to quickly change the visitor assignment under short notice.
Having a good sense of who may be the most fitting to have these roles, depending on the type of relationship (parent, child, spouse, etc.), proximity to the hospital, availability to visit, and level of care involvement post-hospitalization, are all major factors to keep in mind when making this important decision.
2. Bring items that help you feel comfortable, relaxed, and that allow you to have some privacy
Patients can often be admitted to a hospital very far away from home if their local area doesn't have the resources to support them. However, even if you live nearby the hospital, it can also feel as though you are very far away from home as well so any little comforts that you can bring in that is permitted can help make your stay that much more comfortable.
Ask your family or friends to bring in comfortable clothes, slippers (if this type of footwear is permitted) or perhaps cozy socks, your favourite sneakers, an extra blanket, a few photos of loved ones, personal toiletries, electronics (and earbuds to help you have more private conversations), a charger and extension cord for your devices, noise-cancelling headphones to help reduce distractions in the surrounding environment, books and other items connected with your hobbies and interests that can be stored at the bedside, and anything else you can think of that might help you feel at ease that is allowed by the hospital. You can check with the hospital administrator if you need more information about what you can and can't have at the bedside. These are also just a few ideas to consider - choose items to have with you that suit your own unique needs.
3. Ask if there will be a discharge meeting with the doctor and if a family member can join in person or by phone
Depending on the length of your hospitalization, your medical team may decide to have a meeting with you to discuss your progress and next steps. You can ask if a family member can join this discussion in-person or by phone - especially if you are not fluent in English - or ask the hospital to provide an interpreter if that would be helpful. If a family member is allowed to join in-person or virtually, they can be that second person to either make notes or ask questions that you may forget or may not be comfortable raising on your own.
Some important topics to discuss in your meeting include: your physical and mental health, any new diagnoses and treatment plans, home care services, precautions to take or limitations to be aware of when you return home, when you should follow up with your family doctor, etc.
4. Make an appointment with your family doctor and record any hospital follow up appointments if relevant
Call your family doctor's office to make either a virtual or in-person appointment to keep them updated regarding your current situation. They will continue to follow up regarding your medication refills and general medical needs and are your go-to health professional to assist you as you settle back into the community.
If the hospital has made any follow up appointments for you, make note of this in your calendar so that you get the follow up you need regarding any specialized health issues that require ongoing treatment. Similarly, if you need home care services for personal care needs, check in with your medical team or hospital coordinator regarding what services are recommended and when services are expected to begin after you return home.
5. Remember to take time for yourself -- you need to rest as much as possible to improve your recovery process
In between all of your tests, scans, interdisciplinary team appointments, and other related tasks in your schedule, you need to prioritize your rest. Taking care of yourself is vital at this time. Sleep, hydration, nutrition, and exercise - even if it means engaging in some movement in your hospital room that is within your physical abilities - are all important domains that you need to focus on to get better.
Finding pockets of time to spend with your loved ones as well - whether virtually or in-person - is also good for your mind, heart, and soul. Keep up the good work and hopefully you will be on your way home soon!
Wishing you well on your journey.
Davina Tiwari MSW, RSW, CSFT
Registered Social Worker and Certified Solution Focused Therapist
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