Post-Discharge Planning – What to Expect

Don't know what to expect of you or your loved ones post-hospitalisation? This article will guide you on how you are going to scheme your post-discharge and what are the things to expect moving forward.

by Alicia Teng

It’s often a happy occasion when a loved one gets discharged from the hospital. But then comes the question: what next?

In order to get your loved one feeling their best as soon as possible post-hospitalisation, a post-discharge care plan is crucial. This process of identifying and preparing for a loved one’s health care needs once they leave the hospital involves the patient, family and medical professionals involved. 

Not only will a good post-discharge plan make your loved one’s transition from hospital to home smoother and easier, it’ll also reduce the risk of complications that could result in a re-hospitalisation.

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Post-hospitalisation procedures 

For all patients, their discharge date will be decided by the doctor in-charge. 

On discharge day itself, the hospital will recommend that the patient has a family member or friend on-site to accompany them home. 

Before leaving the hospital, you will receive the following:

  • A Discharge Summary and Medical Certificate (if necessary)
  • Care information or instructions
  • Referrals for care arrangements or follow-up treatment
  • Medication prescribed by the pharmacist 

As part of the discharge process, the hospital staff will assist you in arranging for any follow-up appointments at a specialist outpatient clinic and will dispense any medication prescribed. They will also run you and/or your loved one through any basic self-care procedures they should follow at home.

A medical social worker will also be assigned to work with you on the continuing care plan for your loved one. They will also help link you to the community resources available to help your loved one navigate the road to recovery.

How to transition from hospital to home 

Depending on your loved one’s health status and needs, the level of care they’ll require will vary. Prior to their discharge, do make a list of their potential needs that you or their caregiver will need to take note of when they return to living at home. 

Some items on your list may include: 

  • Vitals checked each day or more often
  • Assistance with medications
  • Assistance with medical devices or implants such as catheters
  • Help with injections
  • Assistance with physical therapy
  • Assistance with any Activities of Daily Living (walking around, bathing, eating etc.)

By making a list, you’ll be more equipped to understand your loved one’s needs and make necessary arrangements in advance, for your loved one to receive as much support as possible.

Depending on the level of care required, you might find it beneficial to hire a home care professional to take care of your loved one’s needs. Homage’s team of trained and licensed healthcare professionals can help ensure a smooth transition from hospital to home and that you and/or your loved one receive holistic care in the comfort of home.

Here are some extra tips on how to make your loved one’s home recovery process quicker and smoother!

Life at home post-surgery

Taking care of a loved one who has just been discharged is not easy. It’s normal to feel stressed and overwhelmed by the responsibilities of being a caregiver. Creating a care routine for your loved one’s daily activities can help make taking care of their needs more manageable.

One important thing to note is your loved one’s ability to perform Activities of Daily Living (ADLs).  Some of these basic skills include eating, dressing, bathing, transferring, walking, using the toilet and so on. 

Depending on your loved one’s ability to move around on their own, consider making home modifications to make your home safer for them in the long term – especially if their condition post-discharge makes them prone to falls

Additionally, you may also consider getting mobility aids to help them get around. Find out more about the different types of mobility aids that can assist them in their daily needs.

If your loved one’s ability to carry out most ADLs is limited in the days following their discharge, consider hiring a caregiver to assist you with your loved one’s ADLs. Aside from taking the burden of being a full-time caregiver off you, having a trained professional equipped with the skills to provide the best care ensures that your loved one can recuperate the best they can.

Homage Care Professionals go through extensive training and are equipped to provide care for people diagnosed with different conditions, recovering from injury or surgery and medical escort services.

Other services include:

  • Wound Care
  • Stoma Bag Care
  • Dementia Care
  • Feeding Tube Care

Our Care Advisors can come up with a personalised care plan for your loved ones. Simply fill up this form to schedule a free consultation.

Review medications

If your loved one has been prescribed medications to aid their post-discharge recovery, it’s important to understand the list of medications that have been prescribed. 

Take note of when each different medication should be taken, along with the dosages – generally, medication instructions and dosages should be clearly written on the packaging they’re dispensed in. If in doubt, ask your loved one’s doctor for any clarifications. 

Do monitor your elderly loved one’s medication consumption closely at the beginning, to ensure that they are consuming the right amounts of medication at the right time. The best case is if your loved one is able to be independent when it comes to self-managing their medicines – do check in with them constantly while building their sense of responsibility when it comes to medicine safety.

Warning signs and potential problems – Know What Complications May Occur after Surgery

If your loved one is recovering at home after a major surgery, it’s very important to look out for any potential complications that may arise.

Some complications to look out for include:

Shock

Shock may be caused by a sudden fall, blood loss, infection, brain injury, or metabolic problems.

This severe drop in blood pressure causes a dangerous reduction of blood flow throughout the body, and is a life-threatening emergency.

Depending on the cause, symptoms and signs of shock may include:

  • Pale, cold and clammy skin.
  • Shallow and rapid breathing.
  • Difficulty breathing.
  • Anxiety
  • Rapid heartbeat
  • Heartbeat irregularities or palpitations
  • Thirst or a dry mouth

If you suspect that your loved one is going into shock, contact emergency services immediately.

Wound infection

Infections can happen if bacteria enters the site of surgery – this may delay healing, and also could result in more major complications such as septic shock. Do monitor the healing progress of your loved one’s surgery site, and if you suspect that there may be an infection, contact your doctor (if it appears minor), or take your loved one to the hospital.

Pulmonary complications

Post-operative pulmonary complications (PPCs) occur in up to 23% of patients who have undergone major surgery in the time following surgery. These adverse changes could include an altered function of the respiratory muscles, reduced lung volume, respiratory failure and lung collapse. 

Some symptoms may include wheezing, chest pain, fever, and coughing. If you suspect that your loved one is experiencing pulmonary complications, take them to the emergency room as soon as possible.

Schedule Follow-Up Appointments 

At the point of discharge, always understand and take note of the required follow up visits with the physicians and specialists related to your loved one’s care. Do make an appointment with your loved one’s regular GP as well, so that they are up to speed on their medical status.

Arrange for Post-Discharge Care

Making post-discharge arrangements for a loved one is daunting – but it’s nothing you can’t conquer without knowledge and forward thinking. Making a post-discharge plan and understanding your loved one’s options is key in giving yourself confidence to guide your loved one through their healing process.

If managing your loved one’s post-discharge care personally is not quite possible, do consider arranging for post-discharge home care services to take the burden off you and ensure that your loved one has their needs met best. These services range from Respite Care to Night Care, with different services being applicable to different needs.

Homage’s trained Care Professionals will work closely with you to build a personalised care plan based on your loved one’s status and needs, and can assist your loved one’s activities of daily living, from personal hygiene to nursing care and meal preparation. If you’re looking into getting financial assistance, there are several financial assistance schemes for the elderly and caregiver grants available as well.

Head here to learn more about what our Care Professionals can do for you and your loved one.

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References
  1. Care Transitions from Hospital to Home: IDEAL Discharge Planning Implementation Handbook. Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality. Retrieved 22nd November from https://www.ahrq.gov/sites/default/files/wysiwyg/professionals/systems/hospital/engagingfamilies/strategy4/Strat4_Implement_Hndbook_508_v2.pdf
  2. After Surgery: Planning Your Discharge. Stanford Healthcare. Retrieved 22nd November from https://stanfordhealthcare.org/medical-treatments/g/general-surgery/procedures/discharge-planning.html
  3. What to do Before and After Hospital Discharge. Agency for Integrated Care. Retrieved 22nd November from https://www.aic.sg/caregiving/prepare-hospital-discharge
  4. 6 Tips to Make the Transition from Hospital to Home More Successful. Home Health Companions. Retrieved 22nd November from https://www.homehealthcompanions.com/6-tips-to-make-the-transition-from-hospital-to-home-more-successful
About the Writer
Alicia Teng
Alicia is a founder of boutique gym Division Athletics. When she's not coaching classes or sweating it out on the gym floor, she freelances as a food and lifestyle writer. Alicia is also addicted to kueh.
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