Supports When Leaving Hospital
In cases where patients are discharged home from hospital, it can be helpful for family members and/or carers to seek advice from HSE staff as to how they can best care for their family member at home. This section provides information on issues to be aware of when leaving hospital, and outlines useful sources of information and support that may help in dealing with these issues.
Healthcare professionals, including the hospital occupational therapist, physiotherapists, social workers as well as the nursing and medical team, can provide advice regarding the extent of help required by the individual and how best their needs can be met. They can also help you to access home-care and nursing packages to facilitate the discharge of the person home.
When planning the discharge from hospital of someone who will have ongoing and potentially increasing care needs, it can be helpful to ask friends and neighbours for practical assistance, e.g. shopping, cooking, school runs or baby sitting. Planning a rota of care amongst those who are willing and available to provide hands on assistance and/or respond in emergencies is also helpful.
Medication and Equipment
It is useful for carers to be familiar with the medications that the person is on and the frequency of dosage, and be aware of possible side effects. The attending doctors / medical team in the hospital will be of assistance in this regard, as will your local GP and Public Health Nurse.
Additional equipment in the home may be of assistance in the provision of care. Often items such as electronic bed, commodes, hoists or wheelchairs can assist in the day to day care. Such needs should be discussed with the occupational therapist (OT) in the hospital prior to discharge. The community based OT may also provide advice with regard to more long term structural adaptations to the home. Assist Ireland provides comprehensive details of equipment that could be of benefit.
As well as the often obvious practical tasks that need to be attended to, there are emotional, psychological and spiritual needs that should be considered to ensure that all concerned are supported as the person comes home from hospital. Discussing and seeking help for the practical aspects of care can be most beneficial to ensuring successful discharge. Where possible it is important to involve the person being cared for when planning and discussing aspects of their care, considering their preferences for care and plans for future as their illness progresses. All members of the nursing, medical and therapy team have a role in assisting in this area, and you may find that the Social Worker, Occupational Therapist and members of the Nursing Team can be of particular assistance in dealing with the emotional and psychological adjustment that is required.
Below are a number of documents which may provide useful information for those planning on caring for someone in the home.
- The Irish Cancer Society has produced a booklet aimed at assisting those who want to care for a seriously ill family member or friend at home. This publication addresses the specific preparations you may need to consider including the practical, emotional and physical support that are particular to caring for someone seriously ill at home.
- The Irish Red Cross provide detailed guidance on all aspects of caring for someone in the home in their book Helping You to Care.
- The HSE published a Code of Practice in Discharge Planning which sets out the standards and procedures that should be in place in cases where patients are discharged from hospital.
- The Directory of Voluntary Organisations provides information and directions to local contacts who may be useful in providing support to carers and the person for whom they are caring.