The process of leaving the hospital can be just as terrifying as the process of entering one. Below, we've listed the questions you should ask as you or a loved one get ready to head home after a neurologic event, like brain injury or stroke.
Entering the hospital, whether by ambulance or simple planned admission, is an unnerving process. We think of hospitals as places where the seriously ill go, as places often of last resort. Yet after one has been admitted, sometimes the process of leaving the hospital can be just as scary. To return home, or to go to another, less equipped facility, possibly without doctors or nurses a second’s buzz away, becomes terrifying.
Of course, others may be rejoicing the chance to leave a hospital’s bright lights and constant beeps and overhead pages for a good night’s rest – and who can blame them.
Regardless of your feelings as you make the major step of leaving those busy and doctor-filled halls, knowledge and plans often make any type of transition easier emotionally – and they certainly can help you and your loved one find the right immediate and long-term plan!
In terms of who to ask – this varies between institutions, but generally there is a case manager who is running the logistics of your case. This person has medical background and knows all the ins and outs of coming into and leaving a hospital. Your doctors and therapists are also great resources, but the case manager may have more time to sit down and hash these questions out with you, or tell you which ones she or he is less familiar with. Social Workers can also be phenomenal resources – they’ve got all the community connections and know who and where to go for resources.
Getting Ready for Discharge – Questions to Ask
- Where am I going? Is it the best fit for my personal situation and condition? Going home, while of course the major preference for all involved, may not always be the best fit. It depends on how serious your condition is, as well as what types of supports you’ll be able to have at home.
- What medications should I plan to take, how often should I take them, and in what manner do they need to be taken? Are there any side effects to watch for?
- What are warning signs that would indicate that I should come back to the hospital?
- What types of therapies should I follow-up on? Speech therapy? Physical therapy? Occupational therapy? Mental health counseling? Would Constant Therapy be beneficial for me?
- When should I schedule a visit with my doctors? Which doctors do I need to schedule with?
- Do I need any special materials, like braces or supports? Make sure to check in with an occupational therapist and/or physical therapist if you have any concerns about accessing various parts of your house, such as stairs, bathrooms, kitchen appliances, etc.
- Do you have any suggestions for resources for me? Are there any changes I should think about making to my insurance plan, or any community groups I should look into joining?
As always, remember that you are not alone in this! You are joining a community of persons with communication & cognitive disorders, whether you had a stroke, a brain injury, multiple concussions, or whether you are just finding that dementia has begun to affect you – you are not alone. Reach out to your community and online and find support groups.