Top 10 considerations to help your loved one with hospital discharge


Why your loved one might be admitted to hospital?

If your loved one has been admitted to hospital it’s likely that they needed medical care, which could not have been provided by their GP or by community-based health services. The admission to hospital may have been a planned or sudden. If the hospital admission was planned you are likely to have had more time to prepare. However, if the hospital admission was sudden you are likely to have had less time to prepare and this may increase feelings of anxiety or worry.

Watching my father being taken in an ambulance left me feeling anxious and worried. We didn’t have a choice because he needed help. He looked so unwell. I just felt desperate to have him home and well.

You may be wondering what you can do to help. During the current time of Coronavirus (COVID-19) it may not be possible to visit your loved one. It may be helpful to consider what you are able to do to prepare for their return home.

Top 10 things to consider when your loved one is coming home from hospital

1. Food and drink

Consider the food and drinks that will be most appetising to your loved one.

What will be easiest for them to prepare? Check which food type/texture/consistency would be most suitable for your loved one.

There may be dietary restrictions or supplements in place. Please check with the medical team prior to your loved one returning home. You may be able to consult a dietician for specialist advice.

2. Home environment

Look at your loved ones home environment and consider their safety. Are there hazards such as clutter, loose cables or loose rugs or carpets in walkways?

Consider falls prevention tips to reduce the risk of falls. Would your loved one benefit from grab rails or specialist equipment to help them to get in and out of their bath or bed?

Can your loved one get up from the toilet without assistance? An Occupational Therapist can advise you about the most suitable home modifications for your loved one.

Does your loved one have suitable clothing to accommodate their physical needs? Consider clothing that will be easy for them to put on and take off. Aim for them to be as comfortable as possible.

3. Medications

Has your loved one been prescribed with medication? Do you have a medication dispenser to help them to organise their medication?

Standard docet boxes are available from most pharmacies. Electronic dispensers are available with reminder alarms to help your loved one to remember to take their medication. You can ask your local pharmacy for more advice.

4. Precautions

Has your loved one been advised about what they can and cannot do when they leave hospital?

There may be post-operative precautions or general precautions. It is advisable that you check with the medical team prior to your loved one returning home.

What are the precautions and how long are they in place for? Does your loved one need to return for a follow-up review? If so, do you need to contact the hospital or will they contact you? Is there a reablement option to help your loved one regain their strength and ability?

Does your loved one need need to shield themselves due to Coronavirus (COVID-19)? Check with the medical team prior to discharge.

5. Mobility

Has your loved one been seen by a Physiotherapist?

Have they been given a walking aid such as walking sticks, crutches or a walking frame? Will the home environment accommodate the walking aid?

If your loved one lives in a house, do you need an additional walking aid on the second floor? If your loved one has steps or stairs at home, have they practiced steps or stairs before returning home?

Will they need grab rails or additional stair rails to support them? Does your loved one need a wheelchair? Check this prior to your loved one returning home.

6. Reablement

Reablement can help your loved one to improve their skills and promote their independence.

Goals can be set with your loved one as part of a reablement program including exercises to rebuild strength and increase movement. Clear, structured actions can help to empower your loved one to become more independent with everyday activities, such as getting in and out of the bath or cooking a meal.

7. Confidence

Staying in hospital may have an impact on your loved ones confidence. They may be coming to terms with their experience of staying in hospital.

Having someone to talk to can help, consider helpful friends, relatives or seek professional help from a counsellor.

They may benefit from establishing a new daily routine and engaging in meaningful activities.

8. Meaningful activities

Participating in meaningful activities can have a positive impact on our wellbeing.

Consider your loved ones favourite hobby or leisure interest.

What do they enjoy doing? Is is possible for them to participate in their favourite hobby? Can you adapt their hobby to suit their physical ability?

9. Seeking medical advice

If you have concerns about your loved ones health, seek medical advice from their GP or consult the hospital ward that they have been discharged from, as soon as possible.

There may be an emergency helpline number on discharge documentation, ensure that this number is easily available.

10. Looking after yourself

It can be easy to forget to take care of ourselves when we are caring for another.

Consider your feelings, what do you need? Remember to take care of yourself with gentle kindness. Self-nourishment is vital. Create a happy hour filled with activities that you enjoy, such as spending time in nature, having a bath and reading.

Relaxation can be particularly helpful. Give yourself permission to take some guilt-free time for yourself. Your loved one will benefit if you are feeling refreshed and revitalised.

Finding someone to talk to can help. The Carers Centre, Leicestershire and Rutland can provide help and support.

If you would like support to help you and your loved one to manage after returning home after leaving hospital, please contact 07341265564 or complete a contact form. It would be a privilege to be able to share my knowledge, skills and experience to help you and your loved one.

Copyright (2020) Home Independence Occupational Therapy Ltd. A Leicestershire based company