Giving Care: Senior & Disabled Caregiver Resource Blog

Plan for a Successful Hospital Discharge

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Hospital Discharge Planning: A Guide for Families and Caregivers

The patient hospital discharge process is an extremely important part of continuing care after a stay at a hospital.  Patients and care givers need to be armed with the tools needed to facilitate a full recovery.  No one – not caregivers, patients, or loved ones – can be faulted for being eager to leave the hospital after receiving their hospital discharge papers.  The excitement of receiving the go-ahead from medical staff to return home can distract from the detailed instructions for keeping up with care after discharge.  Important questions and concerns can easily go without discussion as we rush to get our loved one back into their own bed.

Overlooking the discharge process too often results in hospital re-admissions. The Giving Care team has put together a list of tips to help you and your loved ones avoid return trips to the hospital.

Talk to the Staff

Take detailed notes of the instructions from the medical staff. Talk to them about any medication habits that your loved one may already have. Ask the staff what the easiest ways to administer medication and if they can do it on their own. Be familiar with any medical tasks that may need to be performed and the timeline for doing so

Make a Schedule

  • Make sure you have a written discharge plan to take home. Go over it with the staff before you leave to make sure you don’t have questions. Ask questions like if wheelchair transfers are necessary. Ask if any other assisted devices are required? Wheelchairs, walkers, or canes might be beneficial throughout recovery
  • Identify the timeline of the of recovery. This should be apart of the schedule and have an overall timeline of how far along they should be in recovery stages at what time.


  • Understand your medication: What prescriptions need to be filled, what pills to take, and when to take them.  Be clear about what medications to now avoid as well.
  • Schedule a follow up date with the doctor and/or specialist

Accept and Adapt

  • Appreciate the changes in lifestyle that may accompany recovery. Find out what, if any, tasks should be avoided.
  • Seek out mobility aids, when needed, to prevent compensation injuries. If dressing is a challenge due to injury or rehabilitation of an injury, consider adaptive clothing.
  • Ask a lot of questions – when it comes to issues related to care, there really aren’t any dumb questions. Discharge time is the time to ask

Depending on the intensity of the surgery or ailment, you may need to make some lifestyle changes. Whether it affects you or your loved one. Take it day by day, and follow the plan you made with hospital staff. Also don’t be afraid to make your own check-ins, if anything seems to be going not as planned; it’s okay to call and make sure things are okay. Does your loved one need to go to a rehabilitation center next? Check out this checklist for what to bring to rehabilitation centers here!

What other tips do you have when it comes to leaving the hospital? We would love to hear from you in the comments section!

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