It’s the good news you’ve been waiting to hear: Your loved one is making great progress in their recovery, and is ready to go home.
This, of course, is the goal after any stint in a short-term health care facility – hospital, rehab and therapy or a nursing home. While being able to take your loved one home to their own place or your house to live is cause for celebration, the transition can be physically and emotionally stressful.
However, there are several ways to make this transition go more smoothly so that everyone, including you, the caregiver, can enjoy having their loved one home.
Set realistic expectations
A successful transition from hospital or rehab settings where both medical and non-medical staff are available 24/7, to life at home often takes time, patience and managed expectations. This can be the case even if your loved one has only been away from home for a few weeks. Everyone involved – the loved one, caregiver, family/friends, pets, therapists, etc. – should avoid having unrealistic expectations that could lead to disappointment or frustration.
Just like recovery from an accident, surgery or other medical circumstances, transitioning to home care isn’t immediate. Recognizing that adjustments will need to be made, and communicating openly about expectations and challenges will result in a safer and more comfortable home environment for everyone.
Prepare the home in advance
Don’t wait for discharge day to start planning for the arrival of your loved one – work ahead.
Depending on the needs of your loved one, things at home may need adjusting before they can return. Some of the changes might include installing a wheelchair ramp, widening doorways, installing walking rails along the walls, removing trip hazards, moving furniture or temperature control. These things take time to complete, so beginning early is advisable.
Other preparations might include updating family, friends, and neighbors on your loved one’s needs, scheduling time off work so you can help with the transition, stocking the house with necessary food, medicine, supplies and other items needed for day-to-day living.
Don’t be afraid to ask for help
A successful transition home will take the assistance of many people, including family, friends, neighbors and healthcare professionals. There are many things to consider and decisions to be made when moving your loved one back home, and while you might be the primary caregiver, you can’t expect yourself to do it all alone.
Remember that it is OK to ask for help. To ensure that your loved one gets the best care – both medical and non-medical – use all the resources you can. It’s fair to ask other family members to help cook meals, get groceries, stop in for a visit or coordinate doctor’s appointments.
But when those resources aren’t available, it’s a good idea to consider hiring a professional to help with all these tasks and more. Companies like AmeriCare provide certified nurse aides trained and skilled in non-medical, at-home care to help care for your loved one during the transition period and beyond.
A company like this is a great resource for assisting with activities like delivering or cooking meals, light housekeeping, transportation, playing games, and other daily tasks. Resources offering assistance with personal, companion, post-operative and respite care are very important for your loved one and the entire team responsible for their care.
Your loved one deserves the best possible home care. Preparing for this transition by managing expectations, getting the home ready and asking others for help (even professionals) will allow for an excellent continuum of care and help revitalize your loved one’s mind, body and spirit.