Preparing for a Hospital Stay

Hospital Stay, Hospital Stay; Preparing For -

Preparing for a Hospital Stay

Preparing for a Hospital Stay

As we age, our health can naturally decline, making hospital visits more frequent—whether due to surgery, an emergency, or managing a chronic condition.

Hospital stays can be stressful, especially if unplanned, and uncomfortable due to the unfamiliar environment away from home.

However, planning ahead can alleviate some stress and make the experience more comfortable for you and your caregiver or loved ones.

This article outlines key considerations for preparing in advance to create an effective hospital stay plan.

Sharing Information

Being well-prepared with organised information to share with hospital staff is crucial.

If you have a health condition unrelated to your hospital visit—like undergoing knee surgery while also having diabetes—inform the hospital staff early on so they can incorporate this into your care.

In emergencies, you might be unable to communicate your health conditions, mobility issues, or dementia diagnosis. Therefore, having this information readily accessible can help hospital staff provide the best care possible.

Essential emergency information should include:

  • Your health conditions

  • Medications and prescriptions

  • Your contact details

  • Your emergency contact's information

  • Any other relevant health and wellbeing information, such as mobility impairments, assistive technology use, or mental health challenges

  • Store this information in an easily accessible location, such as on the fridge, and inform close contacts so they can provide it to the hospital if needed.

Regularly update this information to reflect any changes, such as new medications or emergency contact details.

If you're unsure about what information to prepare, consult your regular doctor.

Support During a Hospital Stay

Planning ahead for the support you need during a hospital stay can enhance your comfort and safety.

Consider what would make you feel more secure and ensure these supports are in place before your hospital visit. This is particularly important for longer hospital stays.

For instance, if your first language is not English or you primarily use Auslan, arrange for an interpreter to assist with conversations with doctors or specialists.

You might also prefer having a trusted friend or family member present during these discussions, so inform them in advance of your wishes.

Additionally, keeping an overnight bag packed and ready for emergency hospital admissions can provide peace of mind. This bag might include a change of clothes, fresh underwear, a toothbrush, a good book or puzzle book, and spare batteries for any assistive technology you use, such as hearing aids.

Planning for Discharge

An essential part of preparing for a hospital stay is planning for your discharge to ensure a smooth transition back home.

Discharge planning aims to:

  • Ensure you have the necessary care or support after leaving the hospital

  • Coordinate the services you need

  • Enhance your overall care experience

  • Reduce hospital stay lengths by providing care in another setting, like at home or a residential facility

  • Minimise the chances of an unplanned return to the hospital

  • Discharge planning varies for each person, so detailed knowledge of your daily needs, communication requirements, and other health factors allows for better planning.

This process may involve identifying necessary services, equipment, and follow-up appointments to ensure a safe transition out of the hospital. It also includes arranging for regular support services, such as meals and personal care, to commence immediately upon your return home.

As an older adult, you might be eligible for and benefit from transition care, which can be incorporated into your discharge plan. Transition care provides short-term support to improve your independence, helping you return to confident living in the community.

Family members, caregivers, and healthcare professionals can participate in your discharge planning to ensure everyone understands the necessary steps for your care.

When you are ready to be discharged, arranging transportation home is also an important consideration.

Stay safe.

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