Tips for Returning Home Safely from the Hospital
Being released from the hospital is (normally) a good thing, but it can also be a surprisingly dangerous and stressful transition. A person leaving a hospital and returning to their home is moving from a very controlled and sterile environment into one that isn’t designed for an injured or ill person.
Here are some important points to consider when approaching a discharge:
1.) Clean up clutter in the home.
a. Clutter can be a fall risk and items which normally would not be an issue (such as a rug) can be difficult to navigate with an injury or illness.
b. Clutter can cause anxiety and stress, which are both not conducive to healing. Clean spaces provide a sense of order and manageability.
2.) Check that all prior medications are refilled and new medication prescriptions are filled.
People often forget about their prior medications in the rush and confusion of adding new ones. Be sure that you follow the doctor’s orders and have a sufficient supply at home.
3.) Ensure fresh food is available.
Depending on the type of injury or illness, the food in the home may have become spoiled or stale. This can add additional stress or cause a patient to simply avoid eating because of the hassle to shop for new goods. Food is necessary to healing and should be plentiful and fresh.
4.) Confirm medical equipment ordered and in the home/on its way.
The proper equipment can make the recovery process much smoother. Remember, your recovery is still in the process even after leaving the hospital. Avoiding setbacks is crucial and all precautions should be taken.
5.) Clean all clothes and bedding.
Laundry can be overlooked and yet it is very important. Cleanliness helps to avoid infection, which is more likely to occur when your immune system is engaged or has been compromised.
It is also a good idea to sterilize all of the clothing worn in the hospital. While the equipment used in a hospital is thoroughly disinfected, there are plenty of areas where germs can spread (like waiting rooms, door handles, etc.) Sanitize all clothing that you wore during your stay and make sure loved ones do the same.
6.) In-home PT, OT, and skilled nursing ordered (if appropriate).
Using a professional in the early stages of recovery can make a profound effect on the eventual outcome. These services all play an important part and should be set up prior to returning home if at all possible.