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Transitioning from Hospital to Home

The good news: Your parent is coming home from the hospital. The not-so-good news: Your parent will need help at home—and a lot of it. Between the excitement and relief, you may well be worrying about how this is going to all work out.

Thankfully, help is available to make this transition as smooth as possible. When a doctor orders home health care services, a discharge planner will often assist in coordinating the move from hospital to home. This planner typically works with the home health care agency and will evaluate your parent’s needs so that you can obtain the right services and supplies.

If you are brand-new to home care, this video may answer questions.

5 Questions to Ask Your Discharge Planner

What kind of care does my parent need?

  • Medical care—skilled nursing care, therapies, durable medical equipment
  • Personal care—assistance with daily activities, including bathing, dressing, eating, and grooming
  • Household care—light housekeeping, cooking, laundry, errands, and shopping
  • Emotional care—companionship, conversation

What care will I be responsible for?

If you (or other caregivers) will have to perform tasks at home related to your loved one’s recovery, ask to be shown how to do these safely. Be sure you feel comfortable before your loved one is discharged.

What sort of follow-up care is necessary?

There may be a number of check-ups and appointments to schedule. You should also ask about the availability of transportation assistance for your parent to and from the appointments.

Does my parent’s illness or condition affect motor or cognitive skills?

A physical therapist or other clinician may be available to identify home safety hazards specific to your parent’s needs and help with recovery.

Does my parent’s illness or condition have financial or legal ramifications?

Home health care agencies often have medical social workers on staff who can help you to determine whether your parent is eligible for benefits or entitlements. This is an excellent opportunity to review your parent’s will, power of attorney, and health care proxy, as well as to determine whether they need help paying bills.

Talk it Over

As you develop a plan of care for your parent, remember to communicate with family members. Even though you may be the primary caregiver, keep siblings and your parents in the loop to avoid issues down the road.

For more information about discharge planning and bringing a loved one home from the hospital, download Your Discharge Planning Checklist, a Medicare publication.

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