After reading the true stories in last week’s blog (part one), you must be wondering how to prevent discharge horrors. You realize that the term “discharge planning” is, in many instances, an oxymoron.
The discharge part is true. The planning? A little less so. It’s typically brief and fraught with gaps in communication between hospital caregivers and family members who often take over that role. All you want to do is get your loved one home. But you also want to know what you need to know. And in clear, precise terms.
Ask for a preliminary discharge meeting before the day of discharge. This allows time for you to process information and identify issues or gaps in the planning. Will you need to rent a hospital bed, for instance? Do you need to arrange for outside care? These things take time. What services and equipment will be covered by insurance?
Get a list of medications your loved one is currently taking; compare it to the ones taken prior to admission. Make sure you understand what’s been added, changed or modified. To avoid confusion, or waiting around on discharge day, call your pharmacy in advance to see if they stock the new prescriptions.
Your Discharge Planning Meeting should be with health care professionals (usually a social worker or nurse, or both) in which they:
- Assess the patient’s needs: physical, social, and emotional.
- Clarify the discharge plan so that the patient and family members understand each element.
- Identify what resources (family, friends, community) are available to assist the patient in meeting identified needs. Are these resources sufficient?
- Educate family members and friends on their new responsibilities.
- Monitor and modify the plan, as appropriate, and in response to family/caregiver feedback before discharge.
Remember: You don’t have to accept a discharge plan. Express your concerns. Don’t leave without a full understanding and comfort level of your loved one’s condition and your role as caregiver. And if you feel anxious, or you’re worried about understanding everything, bring along an advocate as a “second pair of ears.”