Hospital Discharge Planning for Seniors and Caregivers

The more you prepare when getting discharged from the hospital, the better. Whether you are being released after an emergency or planned procedure, there is a list of things to do before heading home.

Discharge planning usually begins not long after you are admitted to the hospital. Usually, your doctors and nurses will help you come up with a plan that fits your needs.

Even with the help of your medical team, planning to leave the hospital can be overwhelming. You need to know your options and be prepared for what comes next.

The Challenges of Hospital Discharge

If you are like many people preparing for hospital discharge, you are looking forward to going home. But, getting released from the hospital can also be very overwhelming.

Those coming home after being admitted to the hospital are more likely to be readmitted. Studies show that 40% of patients over the age of 65 experience medical errors after leaving the hospital, and 28% of patients discharged from a hospital are readmitted within 30 days.

By preparing to come home after a hospital stay, you increase your chances of avoiding readmission. Lining up the proper care, tools, and resources before you return home will help you stay out of the hospital and maintain your independence.

Hospital Discharge Planning for Seniors and Caregivers

Are you or is someone you know being released from the hospital? Set yourself up for success by following this checklist for hospital discharge.

Before You Are Discharged, Do This:

Hospitals are required to provide patients with certain information before being released. Be sure you talk to your doctor about the following information before you leave the hospital:

  • Options for post-discharge care
  • Information about medication use
  • Expected recovery and need for ongoing care
  • Recommendations for addressing concerns and questions

Your medical team should also arrange for transfers to other healthcare facilities and refer you to appropriate services. This will get you started, but there are other things to think about when being discharged from a hospital.

Consider the Following before Returning From the Hospital

Write out your to-do list

There may be a lot of tasks to take care of upon your return from the hospital. Keep track of the details by creating a list. The act of writing everything down will also help you remember what needs to get done and stay organized.

Ask for a discharge evaluation

Medical staff can provide you with a written plan a few days before you are expected to leave the hospital. Read the plan carefully and go over it with family caretakers.

Explore resources

It’s important to know what Medicare, Medicaid, and your other insurance policies cover. It’s also a good idea to learn about any resources your community provides to help you stay healthy and independent at home.

Recruit help

Returning home after a hospital stay is not easy. You may still be recovering and not be able to accomplish some daily tasks. Or, responsibilities such as paying bills and lawn maintenance might have been delayed while you were in the hospital. Get your support system lined up before you are discharged.

Do you have a plan of action for the day of discharge? Be sure to have the following questions answered before the day you leave the hospital.

How will you be transported home or to a different facility?

Can you drive, will a family member or friend take you, or will you use a transportation service?

Who will pick up prescription medications that you need?

Will they be delivered directly to your home? What does your insurance cover?

How will you keep your spirits up when you return home?

Socialization is key when being discharged from the hospital. Make sure you have a network of people and activities to engage with. You might be interested in a senior companion group or a phone reassurance program to encourage socialization.

Things to Consider

When you return home from a hospital stay, you may need some help with daily tasks as you continue to recover or manage any illnesses or injuries. Some supports include housekeeping, personal care, meal preparation, errand running, and care for pets.

VANTAGE Aging is a nonprofit in Northeast Ohio that promotes positive aging for seniors living in their own homes. We can provide homecare services and home-delivered meals to both low-income individuals and those who can privately pay on a sliding-fee scale. We also provide opportunities for companionship and socialization.

If you are being discharged from the hospital in Summit, Stark, or Wayne, or surrounding Ohio Counties, contact VANTAGE to see how we can help you stay independent at home. Call us at 330-253-4597 or send us a message today!

Share this blog article