What To Do When a Loved One Leaves the Hospital

By Sharon Burch, APRN, CNS

When you or a loved one is coming home from the hospital, you’re probably experiencing two feelings: relief (home sweet home!) and panic (what am I supposed to do now?!). Knowing how to handle the first few days at home can make a big difference in the healing process. Here are 6 important tips for your success.

Be totally honest

The staff person who is handling your discharge will ask about your home setup and who’s there to help. If you don’t have anyone to relieve you occasionally or you’re worried you’re not physically up to the tasks, say so. The planner can usually patch together the care that’s needed with help from local resources.

Create a recovery zone

Get help to create a safe and pleasant recovery zone at home. Pick up throw rugs (a major safety hazard!), declutter, and set up a downstairs bed to avoid stairs if necessary. Ask the discharge-planning nurse what other things you might need for your specific situation—like a shower seat or walker—and order these ahead of time if possible. And pile up the pillows: They can be used to elevate legs, support a head or back or prop up a book on a lap.