Hospital discharge is a lengthy process that ensues once you no longer require inpatient treatment at the hospital and can go back home or to another facility, depending on your current state. In most cases, people assume that the patient is in perfect condition at discharge time and no longer needs any aid. Unfortunately, this assumption is not always accurate. Many patients, especially seniors, must address several symptoms even after leaving the hospital. They may have to follow a new regimen to maintain their health and take additional medications. Likewise, they may have to monitor their health for new signs and symptoms and schedule follow-up appointments if needed.
Some hospitals have a discharge planner to educate patients on how to take care of themselves after leaving the hospital. However, in most cases, hospitals tend to ignore discharge planning, and the patients go back home not knowing how to prevent their condition from worsening. As a result, they wind up back in the hospital with new or aggravated symptoms.
With proper care and a little bit of discharge planning, you can avoid doing that. Before discussing how to take care of yourself, let’s see why discharge planning is so important.
Why is discharge planning important?
Discharge planning is vital because it educates the patient and their family regarding the steps they should follow back home to guarantee continued recuperation and reduce readmissions. A hospital discharge based on careful planning contains relevant information to assure a safe release from the hospital and a successful follow-up. During the discharge process, the medical team should patiently answer any patient’s queries regarding post-discharge care while ensuring that a family member, friend, or caretaker is also present. Engaging a friend or family member in the discharge conversation is necessary to guarantee that the appropriate information is passed on to another person in case the patient is not perfectly lucid.
How to take care of yourself after discharge?
1. Establish a support network
As soon as you receive your discharge papers, design a discharge plan under your medical practitioner’s sound advice and support. Doing so will ease your shift from the hospital to the next stop, which can be a care facility or home. Moreover, make sure you have your family, friends, licensed nurses, or specialists by your side to guarantee a speedy recovery. It is vital to let your family and friends help you when you are weak and vulnerable. They can purchase medications when they are about to run out or take you to the next appointment. They can keep track of things that you forget. For example, they can remind you to ask the doctor about the symptoms and problems you encountered after your discharge. Sharing the mental and physical load with others can hasten your post-discharge recovery.
2. Get the appropriate equipment
After your discharge, follow all of the instructions from your healthcare provider to prevent complications and boost recovery. Carefully implementing the medical care plan benefits you and the caregiver because a sound plan will give you an idea of what to expect and help you get the resources to facilitate your recovery. In addition, having all the necessary equipment in place will make your transition smooth. For example, if you are recovering from a physical injury having a wheelchair or walking aids will help you maneuver around the house, reducing your dependence on others.
3. Ask questions
If you are facing problems following your medical plan or feel something needs to change to suit you better, make notes and do not hesitate to call your doctor and seek his advice. Doing so will prevent problems from getting worse. Likewise, be regular with your follow-up appointments because they will allow you to discuss your issues with your healthcare provider and tell them how you have been feeling. When you see your doctor, take copies of any test results so they can analyze them for any changes. Also, do not be afraid to raise questions about any part of your recovery or care that seems confusing.
4. Healthy diet
You must understand the impact of diet on your recovery process after discharge. Hospitals have an entire staff dedicated to preparing balanced and nutritious meals, which they serve in-house patients daily. Hence it is easy not to worry about proper nutrition in a hospital. After discharge, however, patients tend to ignore their diet, which results in malnutrition, weakness, and delayed recovery. Many people fail to acknowledge the effect a healthy diet has on mitigating an illness and boosting recovery. Therefore part of your post-discharge care should include appropriate nutrition. To ensure that you do not skip out on any essentials, ask your doctor or nutritionist to draft you a diet regimen most suitable to your needs.
5. Regular exercise
Another crucial aspect of taking care of yourself after discharge is performing regular exercise. There is no need for you to perform strenuous exercises and tire yourself out. Instead, you should engage in light physical therapy that your doctor prescribes to guarantee that your muscles and bones remain healthy. Consistently performing physical therapy is vital in post-discharge recovery, especially if you sustained a bodily injury. Skipping out on these exercises can delay healing and restrict your mobility forever. Slight movement will promote fitness by strengthening the musculoskeletal system and enhancing circulation, which will give you more independence. It would help if you worked with licensed physical therapists and skilled nursing professionals to develop a treatment plan bearing in mind your personal needs and abilities.
Regardless of how well you feel at the time of discharge, it is imperative that you pay heed to the advice of your doctors and meticulously follow the medical plan they create for you. Ask your family and friends to help you manage the burden if it proves too much for you to handle. Doing so will guarantee that your health does not deteriorate and that you are not readmitted to the hospital. Hospital readmissions are more common than people like to believe and are detrimental to the efficiency of the hospital. So, follow this guide and avoid adding to the number of hospital readmissions.