If you have had a senior loved one who has been in the hospital recently, then you know the question they ask most often: When can I go home? While all hospitals have their own process for discharging patients, it may be helpful if you know ahead of time how to prepare for that process, both before you leave and after you return home. Write down any questions you may have, especially if your senior will require extended care at home or need to use medical equipment such as oxygen or CPAP.
We’ve made a list to help you know what you should ask and how you should prepare for hospital discharge. It has been adapted from the Medicaid and Medicare programs, so it will get you and your loved one as prepared to go home as possible!
• Confirm where they are being discharged to. It might seem obvious, but you need to make sure that you know if your senior is going home or possibly to another facility such as a rehab hospital.
• Ask to see the care plan. Your senior’s discharging physician should go over all the details with you about what to expect, and the things that need to be done to keep recovery on track.
• Ask what you should be aware of once they are discharged. This includes signs and symptoms of possible problems and who should be contacted if any problems are observed.
• Make sure you have a complete list of all medications and supplements your senior loved one is taking and go over it with their doctor. Take notes about proper dosing, how often the medication is needed, and any side-effects you should be looking for, as well as what to do about them.
• If there is any medical equipment to be used at home, ask about how they are delivered, replaced, and how to use them. This is vital for a successful recovery!
• Ask what your senior loved one will need assistance with during their daily routines. This would include toileting, personal hygiene, meal preparation, housekeeping, and getting to and from follow-up doctor appointments. Also, ask how stable the senior will be on their feet and if they are permitted to use stairs.
• Ask about home medical care that may be needed, such as dressing changes, wound care or medication management.
• Ask a social worker to go over billing and insurance questions with you.
• Get a hard copy of all discharge papers and instructions.
• Have a calendar handy to write down any appointments in the weeks to come.
• Finally, ask about any dietary restrictions and get prescriptions filled.
There is no such thing as being over-prepared. Taking the time to follow up on this checklist will ensure your older loved one has the absolute best chance for a smooth and successful recovery once they are discharged from the hospital. This preparation will help put everyone at ease, both the patient as well as the caregiver!
For more information on being prepared for the transition home from the hospital, please contact us today. We are here to help!
Download and print your Discharge Planning Checklist. It's a great resource for patients and their caregivers preparing to leave a hospital, nursing home, or other care setting. Just enter your email address below and click "Download" to instantly access your Checklist.