Going Home after a Hospital Stay
Leaving the hospital after a stay can cause some stress and anxiety, especially if you’re still recovering from an illness or injury. You might be concerned about managing on your own after you’ve been discharged, but we’re hoping that this guide to coming home from the hospital will help you take better care of yourself, while also providing some information that you may not have known previously.
Before you leave the hospital
Before you leave the hospital that you stayed at during your treatment and recovery period, your care staff will carry out an assessment that will summarise your needs for further support and treatment. You’ll receive a detailed, written discharge plan, which should be explained to you before you leave, and your GP will also receive a copy.
Hospital staff should have included you in any decisions about your care and the support you’ll receive once you’ve headed home. Don’t be afraid to raise any concerns that you have, especially if you’re worried about staying on top of your treatment plan and looking after yourself.
Make sure that you have a relative, friend, or carer to help you return home on your discharge day. They’ll be able to help you settle in. Check with your nurses and doctors that you understand any medication or equipment that is part of your treatment plan.
Your Care Plan
A care plan will be drawn up, detailing the healthcare support you need after you leave hospital. As we’ve already mentioned, you should be fully involved in making this plan. The care plan should include details of:
- The treatment and support you will get when you’re discharged
- Who will be responsible for providing support, and how to contact them
- When, and how often, support will be provided
- How the support will be monitored and reviewed
- The name of the person who is coordinating the care plan
- Who to contact if there’s an emergency or if things don’t work as they should
Being prepared for discharge
Your care staff will prepare you to be properly discharged in a timely and organised manner. They’ll want to make sure that you have all of your items and your care plan before you sign out of the hospital, so you can expect the following to happen during the discharge period:
- You’ll need to check that you have clothes to go home in, and front door keys to your home.
- Your care staff will ask if there’s someone collecting you, or if a taxi or hospital transport has been booked.
- You (and your carer, where applicable) will be given a copy of your care plan.
- Your care staff will check that you and/or your carer understand any new medicines you’ve been given and you have a supply to take home with you.
- You will be shown how to use any equipment, aids or adaptations you need for your treatment and recovery at home.
- Your GP will be informed of your discharge and any help you need from a district nurse will be arranged.
You might need to make a few changes to your property so that you can live there safely while you continue to recover. In some cases, this might mean moving to the living room to sleep for a little while or adding an alert system to the bathroom. You make take to staying near a phone in case anything happens.
If you can’t manage at home, you might need to consider making different arrangements until you can care for yourself again. Temporary respite, convalescent care, or even permanent residential care are all options.
You won’t have the same kind of support at home that you had at the hospital, and you’ll need to remember this when you’re discharged. Recovering at home is very different to recovering with medical staff around you all the time, and you’ll quickly realise how much was done for you while you were in hospital.
The first few weeks of your recovery at home are the most critical time. You might get frustrated that it takes so much effort to do the simplest of tasks, and you’re likely to tire easily. Set targets for yourself to help you get back to what you consider your “normal”.
Follow the treatment plan that you were given, take the medication given as prescribed, and keep doing any exercises your physiotherapist gave you. Don’t overdo it, as this can easily set your recovery back, and you might end up back in hospital – which is the last thing you want when you’re at the recovery stage of your illness or injury.
Remember that everyone recovers at their own pace.
If it gets too much, you might need help from health professionals. Keep in touch with your GP and any health visitors about how you’re feeling and if there’s any extra support that you could benefit from. Having family visitors often wouldn’t hurt, either.
In the case that you need more help to manage your recovery at home, or are thinking of changing your accommodations, contact your GP or your local social services team.
Settling back into your daily life
When you’ve recovered enough to continue some of your previous activities, you may feel differently about some of the hobbies or interests you used to have. It’s completely normal for you to lose interest in some activities and gain interest in others.
You may not want to see all of your friends at once, but one or two at a time can be helpful to getting you back into the swing of things. The best way to handle this situation is to message your friends as a whole and let them know that you’ve been in hospital and that overexcitement isn’t the best thing for you right now.
Your recovery period may be longer than you’re expecting it to be, but as you get better, you’ll be able to take back more and more of your original life until you’re right back where you were before.
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