The discharge planning team is responsible for coordinating a patient’s transition out of the hospital and his or her post-hospitalization recovery. As a hospital stay — be it for a planned surgery or unexpected admission — draws to a close, there are typically two options for post-hospitalization care. The hospital care team may recommend that the patient continue to heal and regain strength in a rehabilitation facility, or depending on a patient’s needs and desires, the care team may recommend recovery and rehabilitation at home. Neither option is better or worse than the other— while many people will respond positively to the rehabilitation center environment, others will find comfort in returning to more familiar surroundings. Being honest about one’s preferences and abilities is the key to a well-informed decision.
The following tips can help patients and their families plan effectively for discharge and recovery.
- Understand your care options prior to discharge. If you prefer to recover at home, make your feelings known to the discharge team.
- Write a list of your prescription drugs, over-thecounter drugs, supplements and vitamins, including your regular dosage and medication times. Make sure the medical team is aware of any drugs you were taking prior to hospitalization to prevent unintended complications.
- Obtain a list of home medical equipment, such as a walker or hospital bed, to facilitate your recovery at home. You should plan to acquire and install this equipment prior to discharge.
- If you require regular therapy, testing or medical check-ups, write down a schedule of your appointments, including contact information for each.
- Ask the staff to demonstrate any tasks that require special skills, such as changing a bandage.
- Ask your discharge team about common problems for patients with your health condition, what you can do to reduce your risk and what you should do in the event of emergency.
- Understand your physical limitations and areas where you need support. For example, you may have mobility issues after discharge that will prevent you from safely walking around the house or running errands.
- Ask to speak with a social worker if you have concerns about coping with your illness. A social worker can provide you and your family with information on managing your illness, support groups and other resources.
- Request written discharge instructions and a summary of your current health status. Bring this information and your medication list with you to any follow-up medical appointments.