From Hospital to Home - 10 To-Do Items To Help You Get Ready
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
Having to stay in the hospital for various medical issues often brings up feelings of overwhelm, worry, and stress. Similarly, getting ready to be discharged from the hospital can be equally anxiety-provoking as you must think about what needs to be in place for a safe transition home.
Here is an example of a checklist you can go through as you prepare for leaving the hospital. This is not an exhaustive list but rather a few ideas to help you along your journey towards home. Your hospital team will review tasks and responsibilities specific to your health care needs and address any questions you and your family have. Let’s consider some key points:
You may be continuing some medications after discharge that began while you were in the hospital. Familiarize yourself with the medication names, what symptom or issue it helps address, how often you take it, and what might be the possible side effects. You will need to make arrangements to pick up your medication from your pharmacy on the way home, or perhaps you can have it delivered to your home if that service is an option offered by your pharmacy.
Are you able to go home in a family member or friend’s vehicle? Or, if you are using a special mobility device, such as a wheelchair, do you need to use a more accessible vehicle? Speak with your hospital team to find out if you need to apply for accessible transportation. You may also benefit from an accessible parking permit for medical appointments and any community outings you attend in the future so that you can park as close as possible to where you need to go.
Similarly, if you are a vulnerable senior who doesn’t have many social supports, you can ask your hospital team if there is a senior’s service in your region that can help you get home on your discharge date to help you settle into your home as safely and comfortably as possible.
3. Personal care and homemaking services
If you still need help with basic care tasks such as bathing, dressing, getting out of bed, etc., it may be valuable to explore home care services. A personal support worker or nurse may be able to come to your home to help you with your personal care needs.
Furthermore, if it’s expected that laundry, snow removal, meal preparation, housekeeping, and other household tasks will be challenging for you, then you may need to consider hiring fee-based services to help in these areas.
Likewise, if the government-funded personal care services are not enough, you may need to think about if you can get some extra support from family and friends or if you can hire fee-based care services to help fill some of the gaps.
4. Outpatient therapy
Sometimes, outpatient physiotherapy, occupational therapy, massage therapy, and other medical services in the community are beneficial at treating and managing certain health conditions. You can ask your health care team if these services are relevant to you and for referrals to local services if required.
5. Skill--building for family members and friends
You already have been reviewing endless health information, learning and practicing new skills, and much more during your hospitalization. While you may be feeling confident in your knowledge and capabilities, your family members and close friends may need to boost their confidence in supporting you when you go home.
If they are open to it, family members and close friends can be taught by hospital staff how to help you take care of some aspects of your health that may be difficult for you or need assistance. Having an opportunity to learn while you are still in hospital gives your family and/or close friends time to ask any questions they may have and hone their technique so that they- and you- feel more confident in preparation for your transition home.
6. Medical equipment and supplies
Do you need specialized medical equipment to be safe at home- a wheelchair, walker, hospital bed, commode, raised toilet seat, bath bench/chair, etc.? Or, are there any medical supplies you might need to best handle your health condition at home? These are all important pieces that your team will talk with you about and provide you information on as you get ready to go home.
7. Community recreation, leisure, socialization
Is getting back to recreational, leisure, and social activities important to you? If yes, start thinking about activities you enjoyed previously and if you can return to them with some adaptations or if it may be useful to consider new ventures that could better fit your current health needs and requirements. Staying connected with your local community, neighborhood, and social support network will foster a sense of belonging, purpose, and meaning.
8. Home set up and safety
Are there any adjustments you need to make to get into your home safely? Perhaps a ramp or a stair railing? Or, is it better to get into your home from a garage or back entrance? How will you manage once you get into your home? Is it better for you to stay on one level for safety reasons, or are there no restrictions? These are all key questions to think about regarding home safety.
If major changes are necessary, you may also end up staying with a family member or friend or another health care institution for a period of time while you figure out your longer-term living situation. Again, your health care team will review any safety considerations relevant to you, so you have some time to get your discharge location and plan in order.
9. Mental health
Prioritizing your mental health during major life transitions is so important for your overall well-being. Don’t hesitate to speak with a social worker, psychologist, or another mental health professional in the hospital if you are dealing with feelings of anxiety, depression, stress, grief, overwhelm, etc. Be sure to ask for information about finding a counselor or therapist near you if you feel you need ongoing support post-discharge.
10. Ongoing medical follow up
Lastly, it’s crucial to book a follow-up appointment with your family doctor shortly after discharge. This will enable you to address any unexpected, sudden issues that arise shortly after you go home and gives you a chance to ask questions as things come up over time.
If you don’t have a family doctor, check with your family and friends to recommend their own doctors. Calling family doctor’s offices near where you live to see if they accept new patients may also be necessary if the doctors used by your family and friends are fully occupied. Having regular, consistent follow-up from a family doctor in addition to any specialists you will be seeing will allow for fast action as issues arise and may help prevent more serious or longer-term health complications.
Hospitalization can be an extremely difficult time in your life. As seen above, though, the stress surrounding the transition home can be simplified by planning, anticipating issues, problem-solving around potential obstacles, and asking for support from your family and friends as you make the journey from hospital to home. All the best to you during this next phase!
Wishing you well on your journey.
Davina Tiwari MSW, RSW, CSFT
Registered Social Worker and Certified Solution Focused Therapist
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