We know helping someone to get home from hospital can sometimes be difficult. People may not be as fit as they were and they may require more help.
We’ve supported many patients on their way home from hospital and have a few suggestions for families to think about.
1) Check medication
It is very common for people to have a change in their medication while in hospital. First check what has changed and what to do about any medication they have at home. Find out exactly which medications they should be taking. Limit confusion by taking any medication that is no longer required to your local pharmacy for disposal.
2) Confirm any new diagnosis
Wherever possible, try and take home a copy of their discharge summary. This should clearly state what was found to be wrong, what was done about it (the treatment) any investigations completed, medication changes, future treatment or referrals made. This is very useful information for the first few days at home and it often takes a few days for this information to reach your relative's GP.
3) Understand their after-hospital treatment and care
Some people may have had stitches or might be in a cast. Some might have a dressing on a wound or a bandage. Try and find out details of these and what the plan is for stitches removal, change of dressing etc. Make sure you know who is booked to come or whether you have contact the patient's GP or other services.
Some people are advised to walk in a different way, e.g using a frame or crutches to avoid putting all their weight on a leg, or may have special post-operative instructions. Again, ask details to understand what they should be doing and for how long.
Clarify what aftercare is being offered and who to contact if you have questions. Ask when to expect services which have been offered such as the District Nurse service or community therapies. Where possible get telephone numbers so you don't have to call the ward from home to find out if plans don't happen as expected.
If your relative is unable to manage the stairs at first, they might have been temporarily set-up downstairs whilst they recuperate. Ask when you can expect services to come in to help them improve mobility and review if/when stairs can be tried.
4) Understand social care arrangements
Clarify who needs to start or restart any help with washing and dressing or meals etc. Is it the hospital of does it need to be done by you? Sometimes the support is only needed for a very short time so it is helpful to make sure you know who you should contact if your relative is starting to manage some things by themselves and the care can then be decreased.
5) Understand any changes in mobility
Some people maybe given new walking aids and advice. You may also get some exercises to help them do at home. Check they have been given the walking aid in hospital and that it comes home with them. If a person has stairs at home, they may need to practice the stairs before coming home and will need to have two sets of walking aids, one downstairs and one upstairs so no-one has to keep carrying them up and down stairs.
6) Helping to settle back home
- Some top tips from our Occupational Therapist
Before helping the person to come home, make sure you know if any equipment is required and ensure it has all been delivered AND FITTED to the correct height.
Get the heating on and check utilities
Make sure any call-systems are working
Check the fridge for perishables and there is enough food in.
Set up the kitchen so that all regularly used items are in reach or consider using a flask of hot water throughout the day.
Check all clocks show the correct time
Bring in own clothes for person to travel home in incl. shoes/coats etc. - Hospital transport can be quite cold!
Make sure the person has their key or someone has arranged to meet them at their home.
Expect the person to feel tired for a while after returning home
Phase return to normal activities to allow them to recover slowly
Remember, if you are not sure, just ask one of the team on the Hospital Ward looking after your relative.
If you would like to organise some independent Physiotherapy or Occupational Therapy support once your relative is at home, please check out or website at www.jlinks.co.uk and use the 'contact us' page or telephone us directly.