With the right planning, preparation and support you can ease the transition from hospital to home and help your loved one stay safe, healthy and independent.
Discharge from HospitalIt is great news when a loved one is ready to be discharged from hospital. However the change can be frightening especially if they are frail, confused or struggling with mobility. With the right planning, preparation and support you can ease the transition from hospital to home and help them stay safe, healthy and independent.
Time for home?The ward is often not the right place for the elderly; there is the increased possibility of infections and being at home can help one recuperate in a warm, familiar environment. However don’t rush it. Your loved one should only be discharged when they are physically well and the right care is in place to manage safely at home. Timing is everything, late night releases, inadequate transport and an unprepared family can all make it more likely that they have to return to hospital.
Discharge planningCare doesn’t finish the moment they leave hospital. There should be a plan in place to help them cope with life at home. The healthcare professionals should work together with the family to assess their needs and find out what practical, medical and emotional support will be needed for life away from the wards.
A key worker, often a nurse, should be assigned to help coordinate the discharge plans and be your main support and contact during the hospital stay.
Changing needsSurgery, infections or falls can all mean that your loved one may need more assistance to recover safely at home. If their function has changed substantially, a social worker should work with the hospital team to evaluate all requirements, discuss a suitable care package and any household adaptations like rails and alarms. Key questions may include:
- Can they climb steps or stairs?
- Can they manage bathing and toileting?
- Can they cook and feed themselves?
- Are they entitled to any financial support?
Intermediate careYour relative may be assessed as needing temporary care to rehabilitate after their discharge. This ‘intermediate care’ lasts six weeks and can take place in their own home or in a care home. Physiotherapy, carers and other sources of support are provided according to their needs, regardless of any income and savings. However don’t panic if your loved one is not entitled to intermediate care, there is plenty you can do to provide the help they need to get back on their feet.
Caring togetherThe responsibility and physical and mental demands of caring for someone can seem overwhelming. Involve the whole family in the care plan. Everyone will have different strengths, time and preferences. Those who are unable to provide hands-on care may be able to run errands, go shopping or do household chores.
As a family get together before the discharge date so that you know how you plan to share the strain.