If you read our previous blog, you will know that our upcoming seminar, I’m a patient get me out of here, is about hospital discharge planning and the services around that process. Looking at this from another angle, I started thinking about how I would feel if I was a patient. How would I want my hospital discharge planned?
I’m an *overly* organised and efficient person in work. I know that if I went in to hospital, I would start trying to meticulously plan my escape as soon as possible (no offence to hospitals of course, just would rather be at home!). I would want to know what was happening to me, why it was happening and when it was happening. And I would certainly want to know how soon I could go home and what I need to do to help that happen. This led me to the three questions below, which I think should help any patient ensure that they can help in their own discharge planning.
What’s going to happen to me while I’m here?
I want to know why I’m in hospital and if it is the best place for me, the type of care I might receive and what I can do to help myself. What care/treatment do I need to have to get me well and when will those things happen during my stay? Will other health and care professionals be involved in my care (e.g. social workers, therapists or community workers), and will I meet them while I’m in hospital or after I get home?
I want to start planning for my discharge straight away, not once I’m told I can go home. That leads us to the next question…
When am I going home?
I want to know as soon as arrive (within 24-48 hours) when I’m likely to get home. I have a job, a four year old and a life to get back to and I have to make plans (again with the planning) for what is happening at home whilst I’m in hospital. I understand that this date may change as my treatment progresses, but I want this reviewed regularly and to be kept updated.
What do I need to do to get home?
This question is much more than just being ‘medically fit’ to leave hospital, I can be medically fit without being discharge ready. This means that staff should ask me how I currently manage at home and about the types of support, formal or informal, that I already receive. But there are other questions that need answering as well. For me these questions would involve what I can do to help myself, but also whether everything I am going to need is prepared for my move back home and my recovery. I’m lucky, my answers would be fairly straightforward – I know where I’m going is safe and that there are people at home to care for me. For others, this might be much more complex. I’m thinking about things like:
- Is my home suitable for me to live in at the moment? Is it warm, dry, safe and/or accessible?
- Do I have clothes to wear home?
- Who is going to take me home?
- Do I have food at home?
- Does anyone know I’m going home (family/other services/support/carers)?
- Will you tell my GP that I was hospitalised and why?
- Will you give me information about what to do if I become unwell after I get home?
- Should I expect a home visit or will I receive an appointment for further support or follow up?
- Will my medication be ready for when I leave?
- Are there any other factors which may affect my discharge?
If you find yourself in hospital as a patient, or if you’re caring for someone and they end up in hospital (knock on wood), keep these questions in mind. This dialogue between patients and staff can reduce delays by highlighting potential issues early during your hospital stay. This will help to ensure that you, or your loved ones, are discharged in a safe and timely way.