If your loved one has recently had a stay in hospital, it can be difficult to know how best to look after them once they’ve been discharged.
The hospital discharge process varies enormously, depending on local policies in the area that you live and on the type of hospital you are discharged from. The hospital should make sure that the person’s basic needs can be met before being discharged: being safe at home and having access to a toilet.
We spoke to our team of Occupational Therapists and Occupational Therapy Assistants for their tips and advice on how best to take care of someone who has just been discharged from hospital.
1: Consider staying with them
If you don’t already live with the person being discharged, you may want to consider staying with them for a couple of days to help them get settled in and back into their routine. It’ll also let you support them with making drinks, food, and making sure that they can get around their home safely.
2: Don’t try and do everything
As a carer you can burn out quickly if you try and do it all. See if there are other family members or friends available who can help out. You may even want to make a rota so that help is always on hand when required – this is especially useful when it’s not possible to stay with them once they’re home.
3: Don’t take over
It can be tempting to try and take over doing everything, but there are tasks your loved one may want to do themselves. Be sure to talk to them to make sure that you’re both in agreement as to who should do what.
4: Prepare food and drinks for them
If it’s not possible to stay with your loved one during the day, try leaving them drinks in flasks or water bottles so they can easily keep hydrated. It’s also a good idea to leave ready prepared food for them that can either be eaten cold or easily warmed through in the microwave.
5: Make sure they have a way of contacting people
Move the telephone so it’s in easy reach for them or double-check that their mobile phone is nearby and charged, with your contact details (or the details of whoever else is also supporting them) programmed in, so they can get help if needed.
6: Remember that discharge and rehabilitation is a process
It will take time for your loved one to reach their version of normal again. You should try to encourage and support them to do things for themselves as it will help them with regaining their abilities and confidence. Try to resist the urge to do everything for them as this could stop them from reaching their full potential.
7: Make sure any equipment purchased is right for their needs
If you need to purchases equipment to help the person that you’re caring for, you can double-check that it’s right for their unique needs by using our Product Advice Service.
The government have also put together a leaflet for friends and family of discharged patients with further caring advice, which you can find here.