If you or a loved one are scheduled for a hospital or rehab facility stay, are you also preparing for your discharge home?
Have you made arrangements for your mail and paper delivery?
Does someone have a key to your home?
Is your emergency contact list current and appropriately shared?
If your home has the bedrooms upstairs, do you need to consider staying on the first floor initially?
Do you need any special equipment, including a hospital bed? Before being discharged from the hospital or rehab facility, the social worker and discharge planner should assist you with the appropriate arrangements for when you return home. Don’t forget to consider the convenience and layout of the bathrooms and whether you will need bath benches and grab bars.
When you are initially discharged home, you will probably be quite fatigued. Preparing for your discharge home before it happens will take some of the stress and anxiety away.
Will you be physically able to cook when you initially return home? Got your take-out menus and phone numbers handy?
If you are unable to go shopping, check your local grocery store for their delivery program. You can also do your grocery shopping online with Peapod or other local vendors, and Amazon and other national retailers.
Will you be able to drive or will you need someone to drive you? Many local municipalities in the Chicago are have discounted taxi services for seniors within their geographic area. PACE and CTA also have medical transportation services which can be arranged.
Check with your local government office about medical equipment loan programs or other assistance programs for which you might qualify.
If you are a member of a religious community, see if they have a parish nurse program. Volunteers may also be available to provide meals and drive you to your medical visits within this group of individuals.
You might be discharged home with skilled home health visits scheduled by your physician. There are intermittent visits: usually no more than an hour in duration. If you need someone with you for longer periods of time; assisting with bathing, dressing, light housekeeping, cooking, or even more skilled care, you will need to make arrangements through a local agency. Long term insurance and your medical insurance might cover some of these costs.
If you are caring for a loved one long distance, consider hiring a healthcare advocate or case manager to assist you and the patient with planning, assessing, and communicating.
Last but not least, know what will be covered by your medical insurance before, during, and after your hospital or rehab facility stay. Don’t hesitate to ask questions: of your healthcare providers, the facility, and your insurance provider.
If you haven’t already done so, create an account online with your medical insurance provider to review your claims and benefit coverage and find any forms which you might need. Call the insurance 800 number and ask any questions which you might have relating to this hospitalization. If you are employed, contact your plan administrator for assistance. You don’t want to be surprised at services which are prescribed but not covered by your policy, resulting in unexpected out of pocket expenses.
Preparing for Your Discharge Home
This check list assumes that your hospitalization or rehab stay is scheduled and not an emergency. I recommend that you become familiar with your personal insurance benefits and local services offered before you need to use them. You want to concentrate on your medical recovery and treatment plan, not worry about where to find information once you have returned home.