How to Make the Most of a Hospital Stay
If your parent or loved one has been admitted to the hospital, think of yourself as the patient's advocate. No one on staff knows your parent nearly as well as you do. It's up to you to inform hospital staff about any existing medical conditions, cognitive and physical limitations, dietary preferences, allergies, or addictions. Bring a complete copy of the patient's medical history at check-in. Be sure to take notes when the staff is giving you information and updates.
There are many ways you can help make your loved one's stay more comfortable.
- Bring a favorite robe and slippers.
- Set a family photo on the nightstand to add a personal touch.
- Let staff know of any dietary restrictions or preferences.
- Arrange for plenty of visitors, but try to schedule them to avoid everyone coming at once. Be sure to schedule in a break for yourself, too.
- Plan to be available as much as possible.
- Bring a book or magazine to read to the patient.
Seek Out the Discharge Planner
As soon as you help your parent or loved one get settled, make contact with the discharge planner. This is the person who can tell you when you can expect to take the patient home and what to expect once you get there. The discharge planner has valuable information about the medical equipment and supplies you might need.
If You Think the Patient Needs More Time to Recover
If, when the time comes, you don't agree that your loved one is ready to be discharged, talk to the discharge planner immediately. Written communication to the hospital director or health plan's medical director might also be necessary. Rally support from the doctor and nurses. Remember, no one knows your loved one as well as you do, and the staff may have missed signs that the patient needs to remain longer. Trust your gut and speak out.