Safe Discharge Planning: Returning Home From the Hospital

There’s no place like home, especially after being away for a few days or weeks. In fact, home feels even more luxurious after spending time in a hospital or skilled nursing facility recovering from a procedure or surgery. But discharge planning is a crucial component of your return home. Before you go speeding home to enjoy a night in your own bed and a meal at your own table, be sure you are taking the time to plan for a healthy and speedy recovery.

Here are a few of our favorite tips for ensuring you continue your recovery work at home and avoid any re-admissions to the hospital.

Start Discharge Planning Early.

The discharge planning process should begin when you are admitted to the hospital. That sounds crazy, certainly, but with many hospital stays being between 3-7 days for elective procedures, you can easily find yourself ready to be discharged but without any real plans for support once you return home.

Avoid feeling stressed out when you are supposed to be focused on recovering by enlisting the help of a trusted friend or family member to manage discharge planning on your behalf. This designee will be able to connect with your discharge planner at the hospital as well as start communication with family, friends, and support services to create a healthy environment upon your return home.

Delegate Tasks.

No matter if you are returning home from the hospital or a skilled nursing facility, you will need to delegate tasks to friends and family members as you prepare to continue recovering at your house. If possible, designate a few people to take care of specific categories like picking up prescriptions, coordinating meal deliveries, and cleaning up the house before you return.

Take Care of Meals Soon.

discharge planning
Planning meal or grocery delivery before you return home can help with your successful recovery.

Perhaps one of the most tangible ways people you love can help you recover at home is by preparing you a meal. However, it takes some organization to make meal delivery a reality. Ask one of your friends to coordinate the efforts by using an online tool like MealTrain or by setting up a sharable online document where people can sign up for a date to bring you a meal. You can help with the process by giving any food preferences ahead of time so your friends know what they can make you.

Remember, services like Meals on Wheels are an excellent option for consistent meal delivery as well. You can sign up a few days before deliveries begin.

Prepare Your Home.

Fall risk increases when you return home from an extended stay at a hospital or skilled nursing facility. Be sure you ask someone to make any recommended adaptations to your home, like adding grab bars or clearing out hallways so that you can safely navigate around using your new walker or wheelchair. If you aren’t sure what adaptations to make, you can ask for a fall risk assessment to see if your hospital, therapy office, or skilled nursing facility offers one prior to discharge.

Make Rest the Priority.

You’ll want to visit with your friends and greet any well-wishers who come to your home, but be sure you are making rest the priority during the first few weeks back home. Set up visiting hours so people know when they can swing by or simply don’t answer the door or phone when you are feeling like you need some downtime.

Set Up Support.

Finally, successful discharge planning relies on support at home. At Total Care Connections, our caregivers and team members create a customized plan based on your needs and challenges, adapting it as you recover and gain your strength back. Contact us in the hospital before you leave so that we can ensure you have the right services for your recovery when you return home.

Wishing you a speedy recovery!

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