If your folks have been in the hospital, you want to do everything you can to create a warm and welcoming environment when they get home.
Now that we’re in the middle of the COVID pandemic, being prepared means taking extra care to keep them safe when transitioning from hospital to home again.
Here are a few tips on how to make that happen as comfortably as possible:
Quarantine everyone at home for two weeks and prep the house.
Plan for everyone in the house to stay home for at least two weeks before going to get your parents from the hospital, and if possible, getting tested would be ideal.
Make sure to sterilize the house as thoroughly as possible before they get home, particularly surfaces and places we all commonly touch like doorknobs and light switches.
Determine who’s going.
Many hospitals won’t let more than one family member accompany a patient, whether it’s admitting or discharging, and even if they do allow for more than one person, you want to minimize the risk of exposure as much as possible.
Determine who is best-suited to go. For instance, consider if they’re going to need physical help getting in and out of the wheelchair or other circumstances that will require some physical strength.
Take careful note of the hospital’s discharge policy and plan accordingly.
Plan the route and routine that will cause the least exposure to your parent(s) when it’s time to go and ask the doctors if there are contactless options for release. Not just for them, but for you too.
Bring lots of supplies and sanitize.
Even though they’ll probably provide you with extra masks, sterile wipes, and hand sanitizer, it doesn’t hurt to take your own and stock up at home, too. Wipe down your car’s door handles and surfaces.
Find out what kind of post-hospitalization care they’ll need, and monitor them carefully.
If there are warning signs that something’s wrong, contact your parents’ physician and/or medical team immediately. Educate yourself thoroughly on their medical condition so you’ll know how to help them heal and keep them safe.
Will they need anything specific after they get home?
This includes any equipment needs, medications, potential drug interactions, dietary recommendations, and how to tend to any post-surgery wounds. If they need post-surgical therapies like physical therapy or occupational therapy, get the details behind those visits. Put it on their calendar, and make arrangements for how they’ll get there and back if you can’t go with them.
Limit visitors, but don’t isolate.
Chances are, your loved one is in need of some social contact from the people they love right now. Utilize virtual contact as much as possible, and arrange video chats for them. If you get the all-clear from their doctor to bring visitors over, make sure they quarantine or get tested first.
Ensure any insurance, billing, and financial information is organized.
Also, review with your parents any legal documents that may be relevant, such as HIPAA authorization, any applicable powers of attorney, estate planning, etc.
Get some support and use the resources around you.
This transition can sometimes be difficult, and you may need a little extra help from friends, family, or religious and community resources (contactless, of course). Your community probably has a local agency developed just for helping in times like this.
Reach out and find out what resources they offer for both them and you. There are plenty of caregiver support groups out there that can throw you a life preserver if you need it!
Bringing mom or dad home after a stint in the hospital is sometimes stressful, particularly right now, so one of the best things you can do is to take care of yourself too.
Manage your stress. Right now, your parents need your love, but perhaps your patience and compassionate care even more.