What to do when a senior is returning home from hospital

In a perfect world, we’d avoid older people being hospitalised — and there’s lots you can do to prevent most causes — but sometimes it’s unavoidable. So when it’s over, and your loved one is returning home after what can be a very stressful process, here are some simple steps you can take to help them settle back in.

Returning home after a period in hospital should be a breath of fresh air — a return to the warm safety of your own space. But after a traumatic and stressful spell in hospital, it can sometimes feel a little disorientating, or even isolating. Take a few simple steps to smooth the transition, and ensure the arrival home feels like a relief, not another disruptive change.

  • Leaving hospital— getting the move home right starts at the hospital. Is transport arranged, or do you know where you can park when you collect them? Do you, and the person you’re helping, know what the plan is? Try to remove any uncertainty, as this will help reduce anxious feelings about the day.
  • Preparing a safe home— when they left for the hospital, it’s possible that your loved one didn’t have a chance to put everything in its place. Before they return home, go in and check that everything is clean and tidy, all the walkways are clear of any trip hazards, and think about whether they now need any additional safety devices, such as grab rails in the bathroom. The more you can arrange before their arrival, the better.
  • Stock the fridge— there’s probably some food that’s past it’s best left over from before your loved one left home, and they’ll need some basic supplies as they settle back in over the next few days. Make sure they have all the essentials.
  • Change the bed linen and restock any essential personal hygiene products.
  • Confirm with the hospital staff what medication is needed and when. Write down a name and number to call if you have any problems, and think about the best way to make it easy for your loved one to remember what to take, when. Make sure you also pick up any prescriptions.
  • Write down future medical appointments. It’s likely that they’ll need some follow-up care, so make sure the plan for this is clearly laid out.

Time in hospital is never nice, and coming home should be a positive step. But, particularly for older people, a little bit of extra help is sometimes needed to help readjust to life at home, especially if the hospital stay has taken its toll. Keeping these factors in mind will help ease the situation, and remember to consider getting some extra help and support if needed.

At Home Instead Camden, we can help arrange the whole hospital to home process, and lend extra support and companionship for as long as needed. If you’d like to talk about our services, or just want some advice, don’t hesitate to get in touch.